Originally released on PC and Xbox around a year ago, Sheepo has finally made its PlayStation debut. I don’t know why, but I never really noticed the game when it was first came out. That is odd because it seemed like the type of game that I would really enjoy. While I am not the biggest fan of Metroidvania games, I love 2D platformers and the game’s premise seemed interesting. With the new PlayStation release of the game and the review code supplied by the developer, I was able to finally check out the game on PlayStation 5. Sheepo is on the shorter side, but it is a really fun and enjoyable 2D platformer with a ton of charm.
In Sheepo you play as a sheep-like creature that has the ability to shapeshift. You work for an intergalactic species database and have been sent to an uncharted planet. Your task is to explore this planet and collect a sample of all living species to add to the database. To accomplish this task you must acquire an egg from all of the planet’s species.
Sheepo’s gameplay is heavily inspired by the Metroidvania and 2D platforming genres. The game actually has no traditional combat. Instead the game is focused on exploration and platforming challenges. The planet is divided into a number of different sections with each of them having their own egg for you to collect. Standing in your way is a number of obstacles which will hurt you should you touch them. You have a number of health points and if you should lose all of them you will be returned to the last checkpoint that you saved your progress at.
When you reach one of the eggs you will face off against a boss/parent of the egg. Each boss has its own different attack pattern which you have to avoid. Some boss battles have ways for you to indirectly attack the boss. Most rely on you outlasting the attacks of the boss. Should you beat the boss you will collect the egg.
Once you have acquired an egg you will gain the abilities of the associated creatures. Some of these abilities include flying, sticking to walls and ceilings, and even teleporting. When you find one of these creatures in the world you can press a button to transform into them for a brief period of time. You will then have access to use their ability to reach new locations and get past obstacles that otherwise would stand in your way. The entire planet is interconnected like your typical Metroidvania so you will encounter sections of the planet that you can’t reach until you acquire the necessary egg/ability which will then open up new opportunities for you to progress.
While Sheepo is billed as a Metroidvania game, I personally would say that it relies considerably more on the 2D platforming elements. With there being no combat in the game, the gameplay is built around the platforming. The platforming is similar to your typical 2D platformer where you are given a double jump and a wall jump in order to make your way across gaps and around obstacles. As a big fan of 2D platformers I enjoyed this aspect of Sheepo. The jumping is a little floaty, but I think it works well for the game as it means players don’t have to perfect every single jump. The platforming is quite satisfying as it finds a good balance between requiring precision but not being so precise that you need to be perfect in order to avoid dying.
Much of the platforming is similar to your typical 2D platformer until you start to acquire additional abilities. While you can only use these abilities in designated areas, I think they are what makes Sheepo really stand out. The amount of time that you get to use each ability is limited so you can’t hesitate trying to figure out what you are supposed to do next. Once you acquire a number of abilities you will have to switch between them in order to take advantage of each. Some of the best platforming in the game comes from the sections where you have to switch from ability to ability on the fly. This is quite satisfying and is where the game really shines.
I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I am not the biggest fan of the Metroidvania genre. In theory I like the premise of having to use abilities you acquire later in the game to access areas that you couldn’t reach earlier in the game. The main problem that I have with this genre is that I am not a big fan of backtracking, and sometimes it can be hard figuring out where you need to go next. There was one or maybe two times in Sheepo when I wasn’t completely sure where I had to go next, but the game’s map does a good job letting you know where you have been and where you haven’t explored yet. As for the backtracking, around the midpoint you will gain the ability to teleport around the map between specific locations which cuts down on the backtracking considerably. This might still be a problem for people that really hate the genre, but the game does a good job addressing the problem for people that are sometimes turned off from the genre due to these problems.
On the whole I would say that Sheepo is on the easier side. I wouldn’t say that the game is so easy that it doesn’t present any challenge. The game provides enough of a challenge that it is still fun to play. If you play a lot of platformers though, you likely won’t encounter too many sections that will really test your skills. The game allows you to take a couple hits before you die and the checkpoints are pretty regular so even if you do die you won’t lose much progress. Most of the hardest parts of the game are optional as you complete platforming challenges in order to gather feathers which are mostly collectibles and a way to 100% the game. While the difficulty may disappoint hardcore platformer and Metroidvania fans, it does make the game more accessible which supports the game’s more laid back approach.
As for Sheepo’s game and story, I think the game does a good job. I will say that it is a little odd to play a 2D platformer/Metroidvania game that has no violence or combat whatsoever. I think the decision works really well for the game though. Sheepo is striving to be a cute and charming game, and I think it succeeds in that task. The overall story is pretty straightforward as you are gathering samples of different species for a database. The story and overall atmosphere works though because the characters are quirky and the world is interesting. The game’s art style works well with the more laid back atmosphere of the game.
While I really enjoyed my time with Sheepo, I will say that it is on the short side. The game has six eggs which have their own section to explore. In addition to collecting all of the eggs many of the screens/rooms have a feather that you can collect. While collecting these are mostly optional, you do need to collect a certain amount of them in order to progress in the game at one point. I ended up beating the game at 85% in around 3.5 hours. I did end up collecting more feathers than were needed to beat the game so if you do the bare minimum you could probably shave off a little time. To 100% the game I would guess it would take me another half hour to an hour. Thus I would guess most players should be able to 100% the game in around 4-5 hours. The game is only $10 so the length of 4-5 hours is not bad. The main reason I wish it was longer was because I was really enjoying it and just wish it would have lasted longer. I hope someday Sheepo will get a sequel because I really enjoyed the game and would love to play more.
Sheepo may not be the right game for everyone, but I really enjoyed playing it. The game is a blend of a 2D platformer and a Metroidvania. The game places a bigger emphasis on the platforming as there is no combat in the game. Instead you need to jump between platforms as you avoid obstacles. As you advance in the game you will acquire the ability to transform into other creatures which gives you access to additional abilities to help you further explore the planet and get past obstacles that once stood in your way. The game really starts to shine as you have to switch between these creatures taking advantage of each special ability. The gameplay is quite satisfying and the atmosphere is cute and charming. I really enjoyed playing Sheepo. I would say that it is on the easier side though and it is kind of short as you can 100% the game in around 4-5 hours.
My recommendation comes down to your thoughts on the premise and feelings towards 2D platformers and Metroidvanias in general. If you don’t generally enjoy games from these genres or typically prefer games that can be quite challenging, I don’t think Sheepo will be for you. If the game sounds interesting to you though and you are looking for a more laid back Metroidvania platformer, I think you will really enjoy Sheepo and should consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Kyle Thompson for the review copy of Sheepo used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.