This game is the latest in a series, I don't know how many there are to be honest, and again on the honesty front, I'll put my hands up and say I had never heard of them until now.
I got the review code and downloaded the game, not knowing what to expect. So if like me, you are or were unaware of this series I'll go into the story as usual but I am not going to give it all away. (You know we don't do spoilers here!)
The first thing you'll see upon loading the game, is a landscape where the foreground is in silhouette. Ledges and walls appear in shadow but you can see flowers and other landscape details in the background in colour. So it looks like a more colorful version of Limbo.
But it looks 'friendlier' than Limbo. There is no eerie music, and no objects obscured by a mist or seemingly out of focus in the background. Anyway our heroine appears on the screen and you control her from the get go. There's no sitting back and watching animated cut scenes here, it's straight into the game.
True, that means you do not know what is going on but you soon meet a non player character that tells you that the star of the game, a girl called Mi Sprocket, has lost her memory. It's a refreshing touch that Mi declares that that is not the case! I may be lost, she says, but I know who I am!
And she soon works out that she has to do what she can to get out of this shadowy realm and back home. So off she goes, exploring a strange and seemingly quite empty world. Mysterious but not that dangerous, but first appearances can often be and are deceptive. It soon becomes apparent that there are perils and Mi is going to have quite a job ahead of her to get out of this realm.
What unfolds is a traditional two dimensional platform puzzler. She will soon be jumping on platforms, climbing walls and traversing narrow passageways seeking answers and the way back home. On her travels she will be given tasks to do by mysterious folks who seem to know her. Indeed one person says that they prefer her older look, which leaves our heroine slightly baffled to say the least!
Her first task is to collect a pair of candlesticks from a mansion, why you should collect them at first is a mystery, but apart from the fact that it opens a door that you will need to get through, you have little choice but to go on the mission.
However the game doesn't grab you by the nose and just pull you along. The areas are quite large and some have more than one exit. Look out for light beacons that you can activate, there are 60 in total and they are well hidden so get searching! It's one of the trophies you can collect for completing various objectives through the game.
But I advise you to watch your step, because, yes there are mysterious enemies out there that will try and stop you. These vary from machines that electrify water that you need to wade/run through and eventually bugs or are they robots that will pursue you once you get within a certain distance of them? it's not clear what they are, but one thing is clear, getting hit just once means vaporization!
And no you do not wield a mighty laser blasting gun, or big, bright shiny sword. You have no weapons. You have to rely on running, jumping and your dexterity to avoid danger.
But that does not mean you do not find anything at all to help you. Look out for sparkling lights.
These come in various colors and activating them is simple. Jump into the light and for a few precious seconds, you have a 'power up'. A red light for instance normally means stop, but not in this instance. Time it right when you jump and pressing L1 gives you a burst of energy that means you can jump higher and further. But it doesn't last long amigo! Just a few seconds so if it fades away, you'll have to go back and jump into the light.
A blue light teleports you along some distance, avoiding things that can hurt you.
A white light actually DOES give you a weapon that if fired, can evaporate the enemies that so badly want to evaporate you. Payback is sweet my friends!
Unlike Limbo there are no lumbering spiders or spinning blades (or are there? I'll leave that for you to discover) no strange moaning sounds. It all seems reasonably colorful and as said lacks the eeriness of Limbo, but like Limbo, the game is challenging and timing to avoid hazards is crucial.
Mi is an agile little lady however, and with timing and manipulation of the controls she can avoid most hazards with relative ease. But some hazards are tricky, some leaps seem impossible and indeed with multiple exits it's not all that clear which is the best way to go.
But the fact that the game encourages you to explore, to set foot into the great unknown is somehow refreshing.
As basic as any old fashioned platform game. The left stick moves Mi in the desired direction, the X button makes her jump, and when you meet a person you can talk too, just press Triangle to initiate a conversation. The Circle button enables you to access a map that you are awarded for doing a task. This shows you where the nearest save points are as well as some hint as to where a treasure may be hidden. You can collect gem stones and the like as you travel, but what purpose do these serve? Again that's for you to discover. Oh and be aware that if you move her solely using the left stick she will automatically jump if she runs out of options. This can be useful though, so when she jumps this way a quick flick of the left stick should get her to where you want her to go, although it may take more than one try.
They look basic, and yes perhaps a little primitive by today's standards but the retro look to the game is quite pleasing.
Mi jumps nice and smoothly, water effects are very basic but suit the game just fine. There are no rag doll effects here, this is/was a 'flash' game after all.
Very easy on the ears. Nothing jarring or 'heavy'. The music provides the atmosphere very well, and is more than adequate for the game.
So it is challenging but short. Challenging and a times a little frustrating without knowing quite which way to go, and yes you will die from time to time. OK quite a few times, but this is not quite as unforgiving as Limbo but yes you will find yourself dying quite a lot. But that's all part of the fun in a weird way.
The game has a kind of strange charm and you may find that although your heart says switch off and let's go play Modern Warfare what-ever-the-hell number it is now, but your head may well say, no, I'm sooo close to getting that item I need, I think I'll have just one more go.
It is addictive (at least I found it so), enjoyable, and is a breath of fresh air whilst radiating a nice retro feel and style. It evoked happy memories of games I played some years ago now, and for me that's no bad thing.