Ever play a something that left you not quite sure what it was you just did but still feeling better for having experienced it? Spheres: One Day in the Mountains could be the poster child for that sensation. It’s a game in which you’re a small sphere exploring a landscape and figuring things out as you go, and if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at the start that’s ok. Its internal logic slowly reveals itself as you explore the landscape, moving from one glowing area to another to see what happens when you arrive.
The demo for Spheres was recently released as a teaser for the full game, plus a way for the developer to get feedback on how much information the player should get to help figure things out. It throws you into the world, dropping in past strange sattelites hovering over a landscape suspended in space between the earth and the moon, and then leaves you to figure out what to do next. The only tutorial is for the controls, which are fairly basic. Right trigger or bumper makes you jump, left trigger/bumper makes you dive, holding them both gives a dash move, and the A button turns on the little sphere’s headlight. Figuring out what to do next requires looking around and deciphering the world. Rainbow orbs are dropping from the sky and little light-sprites are chasing after them, so maybe they’re worth collecting. Elsewhere in the level an odd structure is glowing, so that’s probably worth visiting as well. It’s an alien landscape and ecosystem, and while you can’t die it’s still going to take some work to figure out your place in it.
The title of the demo, One Day in the Mountain, refers to the fact that you’ve not only got a single in-game day to explore the landscape and you’re not leaving the mountainous area you’re dropped into. It only takes a little exploration before you earn enough height to start exploring the skies, but there’s a ceiling you can’t rise above that won’t be present in the full game and it’s blocking the way to explore farther. I’ll admit that I’m still not completely sure what it is I played or what I should have done while playing it, but I was left wanting to know more and break the demo’s limits to find out. Spheres is an odd one, but it’s an interesting kind of odd that invites exploration.
The Spheres: One Day in the Mountains demo is available at itch.io, waiting to be explored.