Sheepo should have been named See-saw as the ups and downs of this indie title is crazy. I’ve had this on my PC radar for a while, but that wait paid off as playing on the PS5 with the comfort of a sofa as opposed to an office chair was better.
That sofa reference must mean sitting comfortably, legs up, appalling posture, but no! For the majority of the time, I’ve been playing this game from Kyle Thompson and Top Hat Studios on the edge of my seat, eyeballing every possible pixel to find the best possible lines when jumping. I mean, I could see them, but could I execute them?
I found my time during this Sheepo PS5 review to be quite testing, as unfortunately for the old memory banks, I associated the game with its cute visuals and quirky concept and being a bit casual/chill and not prepared for a Metroidvania. Bugger.
Sheepo PS5 Review
You play the titular character – a sheep chimaera sort of thing that walks on its back legs and no apparent arms. You’ve been tasked with collating all endangered species in the known universe, starting with the planet Cebron. This was the first see-saw moment as that’s quite a bit ask. However, to give it a number, you need to collect six eggs before they hatch. Easier said than done.
Armed with a… jump and double jump, you get to explore the beautiful planet, avoiding all manner of hazards until you reach the egg. When you get there, you’ll have to avoid all forms of confrontation with the boss of that area – usually the mother of the egg. Without any weapons or bare-knuckle attacks, it’s mostly about avoiding them through their offensive charges; then, once they’ve exhausted themselves, you swiped the egg.
Grabbing the egg and heading back to your base is too pedestrian, though, and the real ace from our pal Sheepo is their ability to shapeshift, albeit for a limited period and only once you’ve collected the respective egg. The first two feats include flying, then traversing through soil until time runs out and you die.
Little, But Big Planet
Initially, Sheepo comes across as a relatively linear experience of dashing from screen to screen, avoiding this and that, then potentially getting lost, not knowing where to go. That’s the first impression, but in reality, that’s quite far from the truth. Yes, it’s a relatively short game (there’s an incentive to speedrun), but it was rare for me not to know where to go next.
Perhaps that’s because of the early unlock that outlines the areas on the mini-map where you haven’t explored yet, plus an exclamation mark for where you battled a boss gives the odd hint, too. There is the option to purchase markers for your map on where to save, and teleportation areas are located, but as earning the currency is such an ordeal, I wasn’t fussed about unlocking that. Plus, I didn’t need it.
Said feathers represent currency, and you earn one for each feat you perform, finding them in hidden locations, or simply out of eye-line, but easy enough to obtain. However, it’s not a walk in the park for someone with average ability in these sorts of games, and it’s easy to take a hit and return to the last save point. In this situation, save at every opportunity.
It’s not that you lose anything upon death like your feathers, just your sanity. In one particular scene, I had to create a piece of art a la dot-to-dot, and though I finished it after a silly number of attempts, I died in the following area through stupidity, then had to redo the art piece. This could have been the moment to give up, but I stuck with it, and it paid off.
It would be easy to say that there’s a bit of lag with executing a jump or perhaps performing a wall jump, but that would be a blatant lie and purely down to ability. Sheepo has tight and responsive controls – even when navigating about in flight as if playing Flappy Bird, you feel like you’re in control, and for the majority of the time, you are.
Sheepo is quite a minimalist game, both in presentation and storytelling, and it’s spot-on for the experience. Your guide throughout the game only pops up when needed or conveniently has their break when you’re about to battle a boss. As infuriating as this sounds, it’s pretty funny as you’re left to your own devices, and in reality, you’re probably going to need to play the evasive game.
Count Feathers, Not Sheep
As said at the start, this has been worth waiting for on the PS5. Still, I’ve ruled out the platinum on this one. While three hours sounds fair for completing the game, not taking any damage or doing it in half the time is nigh on possible with my skills. That said, I felt pretty hopeless initially, but there’s something unique about the difficulty. It’s occasionally cruel, but it essentially boils down to your timing skills and patience if you push yourself.
When spending extra time locating a secret area, triggering switches, avoiding hazards and then only getting one measly feather when you need at least 35 to get anywhere, you can’t help but feel good about yourself for getting that far and ready to set the next goal.
Whether you get the Sheepo PS5 version, Switch or Xbox version, it’s well worth your time and money. If you like speedrunning and are up for a challenge, it’s great. If you’re a bit weak on this sort of game, still go for it as it’s very enjoyable (even if the easy difficulty mode doesn’t make it any better!). The visuals and soundtrack throughout are brilliant – calming, almost, which is quite a strange sensation to have considering the challenges and achievements on involved.