Sawbuck Gamer

Null Divide+

Lost In Space

Null Divide+ is dull, but it leaves you plenty of room to grow.

By Matt Gerardi • October 11, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

Null Divide+ is a testament to how well Nintendo built the foundations of Metroid, its classic sci-fi series. The basic framework—explore an area, learn a new skill, use that skill to redefine the space you’re in and reach new areas, repeat—has been reused and gussied up in so many different ways that it’s easy to ignore its inherent primal pleasures. By stripping down the Metroid approach to its simplest form, Null Divide+ lays that perfect skeleton bare, and its power to elicit two basic human impulses—to explore and to grow—become more evident than ever.

You’re in a spaceship and running low on fuel. You fly into a station hoping to fill up, but instead, you find an adventure full of upgrades and mysterious relics. The art is stark and ugly, all hard lines and flat colors. The music is a set of serviceable retro tunes. The level ending battles can feel more unfair than challenging. On the surface, Null Divide+ doesn’t have much going for it. Yet, I was driven to keep going, to strengthen myself with new finds. Corridors that once were massive deathtraps become a breeze once you have the power to freeze enemies with a bomb blast. And an extra sliver of health comes in handy when facing off against the second level’s ludicrous boss for the 10th time. Placing such a clear emphasis on the dividends of patient discovery isn’t just good game design. It’s a good life lesson.

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2 Responses to “Lost In Space”

  1. JohnGames says:

    How many more of these do I get?  As a leech, I only came to this society for sawbuck gamer.  Soon we leeches will have to check actual game portals, and play games that we have to choose!

    Also, listen to the authors advice and play on pc, it is… better.

    • Matt Gerardi says:

      If all goes according to plan, next week will be the last week for daily Sawbucks. After that, they’ll be returning to a digest format where we review several games in one go every couple of weeks.