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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Review: TurnOn (Steam) A Charmingly Electric Journey


TurnOn is a charming platformer/runner where you play an alien ball of electricity who has crash landed in a city causing a blackout, and must then restore both the power and help the citizens out in the process. This was a mostly enjoyable experience that took me  4.8 hours to complete. There were a few parts of the game where I got stuck for a little while, which extended my time a bit. A player with solid platformer and runner skills could probably play through this in about 3 hours if they wanted.





The story in TurnOn is presented without any captions or voice work. It is a strictly visual experience from this standpoint. That said, it does in fact carry itself reasonably well in the story department. Basically, this is the tale of an alien who crash lands in a city (and fortunately in a scientists laboratory) causing a city wide blackout. The alien, who is represented as a ball of electricity, and who can only travel via electrical currents (such as power lines and such), and the scientist together attempt to restore power to the city before the people in the city destroy it via looting and other crime, accidents, and what have you. You, the alien, will also try to help people along the way, from helping out a couple on a romantic date to making it possible for a kid to finish his round of mini golf (and other stuff as well). Certainly the story in TurnOn is no magnum opus, but it serves well within the context of this platformer.


I give the story a 7 out of 10



The gameplay in both a platformer and a runner is of paramount importance. Brainy Studios did a very nice job of creating a seamless experience in this regard. The controls in TurnOn were tight using a gamepad (I didnt try keyboard and mouse, so I have no opinion ion that manner of play for this game). I experienced zero crashes or stuttering. There is one amusing bug that will show up however. You can sometimes end up travelling along invisible power lines. This happened probably 8-10 times in my playthrough. Each time, this bug worked to my advantage as it made jumps between power lines a bit easier.

So, the actual gameplay itself:

  • The platforming was fairly basic overall. As mentioned before, in TurnOn, you travel via power lines and electrical currents. These are presented in a number of ways, from straight lines to mazing paths, with shifts in elevation, and moving platforms (such as window washing lifts, the scientists vehicle, forklifts, etc…). There will also be bridges that you need to power up to unlock, doorways that need to be unlocked, street lights that need to be turned on, and so on. Along the way, you collect currents of electricity (which basically take the place of the more familiar coins in platformers) which impact your ranking on each level and are attached to certain achievements. There are also red charges of electricity which damage you and green charges which heal that damage and basically give you up to 3 health points. If you run out of green energy, you will have to completely restart the level you are on.
  • The running sections I personally found to be a bit frustrating. Not because they werent done well. They were. I simply am not so good at that style of gameplay. However, despite my deficiency in this regard, I was still able to complete each level with some trial and error. You are still traveling across electrical lines, and so the presentation for the runner levels is basically like sheet music, with a few different levels and breaks on various ones causing you to have to stay on top of your game and change lines frequently. The pacing is tied to the music in the game, so the faster the tempo, the faster you are running.


You will also encounter enemies on a few levels in TurnOn, which are variations on red energy. They are fairly easy to avoid overall, but you will still die plenty of times on a few of those levels. There is also what is essentially a timed level towards the end. This was the level I had the most problems with overall. Again, it was done well, but I still died a lot trying to figure out and remember the patterns as I ascended a building trying to stay ahead of a line of red energy that inexorably advanced upon my little electrical alien.

The gameplay in TurnOn deserves an 8 out of 10.




The graphics in TurnOn were are presented in comic book fashion. The intros for each section are actual comic book frames which let you know what challenges you will face in the level to a certain extent and what your overall goals are. The actual game graphics are an extension of this comic book approach. They were especially well done in my opinion and the highlight of TurnOn for me. This was simply put a beautiful and lovingly crafted game from a graphics standpoint.

I think this game deserves a 9 out of 10 for this category. The graphics in TurnOn were almost done to perfection



I have mixed feelings towards the audio in TurnOn. The music was the sort of stuff you would expect to hear in inspirational videos and commercials. Sort of uplifting, but also a bit sterile. The rest of the audio was simply sounds of electrical discharge, muttering speech done intentionally to further the voiceless story telling, and other ambient noises appropriate to the various backdrops. This was the low point of the game from my perspective

6 out of 10




Taken as a whole, TurnOn was a pleasant gaming experience. The setting and main character were charming. I was also impressed by the fact that this game was crafted by a four person team.

7.5 aliens traversing the electrical wire ways of our neon world charming the socks off of those they encounter within. Out of 10.


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