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Fermi’s Path Review

Fermi’s Path

Developer: GameArt Studio GmbH
Publisher: Same as Above
Released on Apr 20, 2015

Fermi’s Path is a straight-shooter featuring a subatomic particle’s intense journey through hyperspace. As a huge science nerd, I was really looking forward to trying this one since it had a chemistry theme. I got into flash games in high school, which is why I played so many shooters. This arcade game will test your reaction time to catchy techno music. Can you beat your last high score on every difficulty?

Genre: A Classic Indie Racing Game

At first glance, Fermi’s Path resembles a classic 3-D shoot em’ up. But it’s better described as a racing platformer game since a lot of time is spent actively avoiding obstacles by jumping over them. Your objective is to beat all 23 levels of the game. It shares many elements of arcade mode such as having a score-based system and engaging in fast-paced gameplay with little to no context.

There are three modes to choose from: easy, medium, or hard, for anyone who wants a real challenge. The main difference lies in the damage you take from being hit by incoming particles and hostile enemies, as shown in the top left energy counter. If you lose all your energy from collisions, then you are forced to restart the level.

Fermi is the name of a subatomic particle traveling along a straight path until it reaches the goal as indicated by the level bar. Fermi is able to jump over barrier particles, rotate around any path, and shoot at incoming statics or chasers. (Yeah, they actually have names.) Collecting rings will raise your score, with bonus points awarded for chaining combos.

It’s probably just a coincidence that you dash through rings on an obstacle course, analogous to a 3-D Sonic title. Earning points is entirely optional as long as you survive each level. While it’s true that rings are placed in-sync with the music, I wouldn’t expect you to get a perfect combo on your first attempt. They are positioned in every nook or cranny imaginable.

These graphics give off a cool-electric vibe: The backgrounds are vibrant and filled with crystalline or molecular structures, almost like blasting off into space. The soft glow of particles and other collectible power-ups enhance the soundtrack played throughout each stage. The difficult part is keeping up with the rhythm of the music so you don’t get left behind.

In earlier stages, you might find collecting coins to be perfectly doable. Indeed you only need to make a few twists and turns. The same can’t be said for mid-game levels where you will inevitably miss a few double-jump arrows, forget about the timing, run into clusters of particles, or struggle against an onslaught of enemy shooters.

At any rate, the ability to rotate under or over the path is arguably the best thing about playing in a straight-line race. It allows you to evade enemy lasers and survive multiple rounds of approaching particles that would’ve easily decimate you in a few hits. What’s cool is that the music becomes amplified, adding a touch of intensity to your combo bonus.

When tokens were brought up, I had hoped that they serve a purpose besides being used as bonus points, but oh well. As for hitting a black hole, Fermi is teleported to another dimension, introducing a new set of challenging paths to race through. Finding secrets is a good way to achieve a higher score, overwriting your old records.

The gameplay is relatively fluid, and by that, I mean how fast or slow Fermi moves along the path stays nearly constant with no signs of lag nor being dragged down by glitches or bugs. The trajectory of particles is dynamic, tracing the motion of particles as seen in hyper-speed. The track often curves into a spiral, hiding a series of rings underneath.

The game utilizes a rather creative approach, consisting of strategically placed arrows, rings, or fields of particles. This is clearly intended to help players navigate the track, where they can overcome obstacles by combining double jumping with rotation to avoid danger. Too bad the same can’t be said about your limited number of weapon upgrades.

The devs had an opportunity to push the boundaries of conventional shooters, but for some reason decided against it. Though in their defense, I admit it would be hard to introduce other types of non-linear bullet patterns when there’s already so much to keep track of on the player’s end. Nonetheless, Fermi’s Path does have the potential behind it.

Collectible green shields and blue health tokens are a lifesaver once you get past level 8. The difficulty curve is kind of inconsistent since I found it easier to survive later levels because the soundtrack was slower-paced than on a previous stage. This game is far from widespread, so I’m not surprised nobody has uploaded a guide onto Steam.

Here’s an interesting fact, Fermi is named after a unit that measures nuclear distance. In addition, I noticed many levels are named after theories in physics, including Subversive Acceleration, Thermal Entropy, Singularity Constant, Gluon-Wave Cycle, and more. It’s probably paying tribute to scientific concepts that I did learn about in college.

Anyway, to wrap this up nicely. Fermi’s Path does have a few notable problems. For some reason, it feels unfinished, as if more mechanics can be implemented to improve the overall gameplay. I’m definitely not asking for the quality of cinematics in a Square Enix game, but adding some minigames in-between would keep the player’s attention.

Lastly, I wanted to address the level creator interface. If you like using mods or uploading your creations to the Steam workshop, then why not show off what you’ve made? Now, I can’t deny it has several issues: For one, the level creator needs a tutorial to explain what kind of features are available and how to implement them.

Also, the buttons aren’t easy to press and it’s a shame you can’t rotate the track around to see your overall progress. The options for techno music, background themes, adding points, tokens, or enemy particles are here. And yet, you have no idea how fast Fermi travels without doing multiple playtests of your user-created level.

I mean, you want to give players as much freedom as possible in creative mode so yeah. I can see why Fermi’s Path has mixed reviews despite the low price and decent graphics in the trailers.

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