Game Review: VVVVVV

With the Humble Indie Bundle 3 set to end in less than a day (bad timing, I know), I finally got around to writing my review of VVVVVV.

VVVVVV is a puzzle platformer with a special twist. Unlike other platformers, you can’t jump… you can only reverse the direction you fall. (I’m guessing the main character is supposed to be weightless and wearing magnetic boots)

The first thing I have to say is that this is a game that’s firmly targeted at the “nostalgia niche”. Its graphics are an intentional knock-off of games from the Commodore 64 era, the soundtrack is composed of chiptunes, and gameplay, while simple and intuitive, is about as far from “push button to win” as you can get while still keeping me as a satisfied player.

However, you don’t have to be an old Commodore gamer to enjoy it (The SNES was the first gaming system I owned) and it’s actually a very refreshing game as long as you aren’t impulsive or impatient. Some levels require to you to stop and think before you attempt them while others are centered on “more speed, less haste”. This is definitely not a game to be played while tired. However, if you’re well-rested and can think well within levels designed to make you hurry (and to kill you if you get lazy), I found it not only satisfying, but rather relaxing. (Just make sure you’re playing the newer C/C++ rewrite. The old flash version’s collision detection is painfully inadequate.)

I especially enjoyed the scrolling “The Tower” segment… which is a bit of a surprise, given that I hate self-scrolling levels everywhere else in gaming. There was a sort of “DDR Zen” to it (plus catchy music) that appealed to me… aside from that jerk move of putting that second trinket far enough from its branch point to keep me from getting everything in the first run.

In fact, aside from when I got tired and started making mistakes, the whole game had a sort of relaxing flow to it.  All in all,  it’s a very well-designed game built around switching between stopping to think one moment and requiring you to be cool and collected under pressure the next.

While I wouldn’t want that in all my games, in moderation, it’s very refreshing. I suppose I’m starting to understand what some reviewers see in the first Castlevania game. It also helps that there’s so much catchy music in the soundtrack.

Not a long game, but well worth it if you can spare the cash.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Game Review: VVVVVV by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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