~CONTROLS & GENERAL GAMEPLAY~
The jumps were fairly forgiving. The character always pushes forward. I think in fact the jumps may be too forgiving, considering the bug exploit that means that I can fall to my death, seemingly, but as long as I have a sword swing to use against a solid wall, I can push the character forward and he'll pop back up onto the top without a loss of life. This is something I'd kinda be okay with getting fixed, but it ends up being a balance to the sword swing itself.
As an attack for enemies, or to clear boxes, the sword is generally useful. It crosses a good amount of distance, effectively serving as a triple jump. In fact everyone knows by now that the only way to make some jumps is to chain successful attacks together in order to clear space. My problem with the sword swing is that it appears to have too little margin for error. I tested the swing and even while holding the jump and pressing the sword, there's a pixel or two "sink" to the move. This is important because the character's hitbox is very large compared to a rather small hitscreen for the sword.
I get that it's a broken sword, but it has pretty much no vertical pixels to it. If boxes are stacked, you have to hit them dead center at the stacking point or you'll crash into one of them and lose a life. This isn't so much an issue while you're on the ground, but when you have to make a sudden jump, not so much. Many times I encountered a rock just behind a slide trap, with a triple stack of boxes stacked behind that rock. This is not a slow speed trap, the trap algorithm specifically waits until you're going fast to throw it at you. Very frustrating because I know that at the speed I'm going it's almost impossible to leap over those boxes in time. I'm supposed to cut my way through but the pixel margin to hit both those boxes is ridiculously small. I just resigned myself to losing a life when I ran up across that trap. It's possible, but too subject to chance.
Even at that, what is unforgivable as a design matter is that the attack frames end before the animation frames end, meaning that your character can have the sword out, swinging it, dashing forward, and yet still get hit by an obstacle or enemy that was in the way. This steals a lot of lives at higher speeds and throws off a lot of timing. It requires that I, as the player, literally cut it close on bothering to use the sword. In a game like this, reflexes are important, but so is being able to look ahead and anticipate traps and enemies, executing moves in advance so that they're already done by the time you get there. Forcing me to wait until things are close to attack is the opposite of the very method by which a player is supposed to succeed in a game like this. It's a critical design flaw because it works against the very design nature of this kind of game.
I found myself wishing very much that I could've changed the controls. In a speed-game like this, being able to assign the jump button to the space key would have been much helpful. Games like these usually do have the jump as space, or at least dual functionality with the space bar. It at least allowed me to use the Numpad, but even this felt a little awkward as I have rather large hands and they were still too close together for precision button presses for my liking. There's a reason I prefer the space bar. This goes to a general gripe that's not your fault, but why every game doesn't have customizable buttons when it's such an easy thing to do compared to the rest of game programming is pretty much beyond my understanding.
The game reading my inputs was also a problem. I have a pretty decent computer but I had to run this in low quality with everything else closed and it still sometimes didn't register my button presses (which I guess is turnabout for the bomb). Speaking of which...
Tested the bomb. Gets rid of the little green guys but I got the enemy-kill achievementso I don't know if they count toward that. Of course, getting that achievement gave me nothing, so if that's what it's for it's still worthless. Since those greenlings will never catch up to me, it became a "bonus" that 1) took the place of something that I could actually use to increase my score and 2) I could entirely ignore. Game design hint: you never want to put in something people can say that they could "entirely ignore" unless it's called "the background."
The magic jump I generally didn't have a problem with, but each incremental upgrade for it only added maybe tens of meters to the overall run. Nothing to rush to upgrade.
Money upgrades would be the first thing I'd sink the coin into, since that makes it easier to get the other stuff. From there, I would go for lives, and then after that it almost doesn't matter, given the infrequent appearance of bonuses even with a maxed out fortune amulet. I tested it to about an average of one bonus every 45ish seconds at max. And then far too often at that, I got the bomb bonus that, as said before, did nothing. Saw the magic shield icon about 3 times in total across many dozens of runs. I have no idea how long you have to run, or how utterly lucky you have to be, in order to get ten shields in one run, but suffice to say that was the only achievement I never got.
The dissolvent, I imagine, works even better than it's spelled out in the game. No matter my speed or distance cleared, if I picked up the dissolvent bonus, the next few hundred yards or so would be completely flat ground. No traps or boxes or enemies... nothing. If you're trying to farm money from boxes and enemies, that may not be too great... at lower levels of the coin value shop item, the distance makes up for the money you're not getting from kills, but at the higher coin value levels, the kills give more money than you make from distance. It's a trade-off that works better at the lower levels than the higher levels.
Berserk, generally speaking I got this enough to test it and the trap-sorting algorithm does change when you're in berserk mode. It never gives you a series of trap/jumps that would have required your sword to pass. This is a good design measure so you have my compliment on that. That said, the berserk mode never seemed to last that long. The magic shield seemed to last slightly longer, a trade-off in time to account for the fact that you have to manually break things to earn cash, compared to berserk mode, in which the only button you have to worry about is jump. Berserk also increases your character movement speed compared to magic shield. I would say that at least in magic shield, when it's about to end you can better prepare yourself since the trap-spawning algorithm is the same, but berserk needs a better algorithmic timer, or maybe some invincibility frames after it ends... I dunno, it just seems like it was much easier to take damage or miss a jump coming out of berserk than compared to coming out of magic shield.
I gave a lot of cons, but even so... I kept playing it. It felt like, I knew enough about what was off that I could work around it. Maybe that's the charm of the game, or having flaws that while noticeable aren't game breaking. I'm not sure how to describe it. I'll give 3.5 rating for replayability, sound, and visuals. Technically it works, but it doesn't work at its best. I came back for more, though, so I guess that's what counts.