Enchanted Portals is an action platformer game developed by Xixo Games Studio and published by Perpetual Europe. At first glance, this title looked appealing, but let’s see how the gameplay held up.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. This title is inspired by Cuphead, and mimics many mechanics from it. I’ll admit, when I first saw Enchanted Portals, Cuphead was the first thing that came to mind. Because of that, I immediately wanted to give Enchanted Portals a try. However, I pushed Cuphead out of my mind; Enchanted Portals is still its own game, and I don’t want to spend my time comparing the two.
With that out of the way, let’s actually talk about Enchanted Portals. The story is told through pictures, with no dialogue or voice acting. You play as Bobby, and a second local player plays as Penny. They get sucked into numerous portals as they chase a magic book. To be honest, I didn’t really know what was going on. The images were nice to look at, but it was hard to tell what they were trying to convey.
Now, when I first turned on the game and hit “play” I was met with a long black screen. Music played in the background, so I assumed it was the loading screen taking its time. It wasn’t until my second play session that I turned on the game and realized that black screen was a glitch. I was met with a series of images showcasing the kids opening the portals and the magic book getting sucked in.
After that, you’re dropped into World one. Each world contains two platform levels followed by a boss that has three stages. The platform sections are run-n-gun. Your character has three magic options: fire, water, and wind. You can easily switch between the three of them using the shoulder buttons. I favored the wind magic because it acted like a spread shot.
The reason I preferred having the spread shot is because aiming in this game is difficult. Bobby shoots his magic wherever he’s facing. You can use the analog stick to have him shoot upward, but then you can’t walk. Thus, the majority of the platform seconds were slow and dull.
Take the first level, for example. Most of the enemies were bats, which were above Bobby’s head. So, I’d have to walk a few paces then stop to shoot. Walk two more paces, stop and shoot. Rinse and repeat. In addition, some enemies could only be defeated by a specific magic type. However, it’s not like all bats were weak to fire. No, some bats were weak to fire. Others to water. Others to wind. And some others would be defeated using any magic. There was no rhyme or reason to them having any sort of weakness. Luckily, the enemies would have a red, blue, or green aura around them to give you a hint.
The platform sections were also repetitive. For example, the temple seemed to repeat the same section three or four times just to make it longer. These sections also seemed to be randomly generated. One time enemies wouldn’t be in a certain spot, then the next one or two enemies would be there. There was one point where I had seven enemies headed toward me because doubles were stacked on top of each other. That aside, enemies respawned all the time from everywhere, including from where you just came.
Normally, this isn’t something I’d mind since it adds challenge. However, the controls were so janky and stiff that I ended up playing on easy mode for the pure sake of getting past world one to see more of the game. Not to mention, the hitboxes were inconsistent. I think I died more from not being able to avoid any damage due to the hitboxes.
I haven’t even begun discussing the bosses in Enchanted Portals yet. I enjoyed the bosses more than the platforming, if only because they were faster paced. Each boss has three stages, which I didn’t mind at all. However, the stages felt unbalanced. Sometimes phase one was the hardest, other times it was the easiest. Sometimes the first phase was super quick and other times it seemed to drag on no matter how many times I hit them.
I spent an hour trying to defeat the world one boss, then got through the world two boss within fifteen minutes because it was predictable. Also, I found a spot in the third phase where none of the attacks could reach me. Either I was extremely frustrated with the controls or I was frustrated with the game being too slow and repetitive.
Overall, Enchanted Portals was slow to load, the gameplay was either annoying or boring, and the game crashed on me twice. When it crashed at the end of world three boss, that’s when I realized the game only saves in between worlds. So, I had to do the world three platform sections all over again.
This title also has two-player co-op. I hoped the game would be more enjoyable with a friend, so I asked my cousin to play with me. Even though I had already played through a few worlds, I started her off with world one so she could get used to the controls. She, too, thought it was boring and didn’t make it past the first boss. She had no desire to continue.
The game played exactly the same with the two of us. If one of us died, there was no way for the other to revive their companion. However, if the sole survivor made it past the stage, then the other player would be revived for the following level. So, that wasn’t as unforgiving as I originally thought it would be.
On the other hand, the music and visuals in Enchanted Portals are top notch. The 2D drawn graphics are easy on the eyes and certainly appealing to any audience. The music is also upbeat and fun, varying appropriately from level to level. I would certainly listen to the game’s soundtrack.