Remember the smart, weird kid in your class? This platform puzzler is that boy: clever, but no looks or personality.
It’s just you and a grapple gun, trapped in 22 levels of cuboid puzzlement. Reach a teleporter to escape each level, pick up the access codes along the way, avoid electrified panels. The trick is to use your grapple gun to hook onto the green areas dotted tactically around levels. Sometimes you’ll be jumping into an apparent abyss, often there are switches, the platforms hardly ever stay still and precision timing is all. Which can be frustrating.
On one level where we could see the route the game was shouting at us to take, but we were failing miserably to string together the right leap, hook, leap, routine, we just cheated. Recharged our health, made a dash across the electric panels, shuddering like a nun in a fetish club, and survived just long enough grapple to the goal. It wasn’t dignified, or fun, but still preferable to staying on that level until our pension.
So, it’s Portal with no companion cube, no caustically brilliant voiceover, and the levels are just grey, blue, green and red cubes. Now and then you’ll swing past a comment scrawled on the wall (“Are you a spider monkey?”) but that’s the only personality in sight. And the sound? After it’s looped for the 200th time it feels like you’re living next to a 15-year-old with a drum machine and a friend on Grade 1 electric guitar.
This is essentially a very promising tech demo, and you can’t help feeling that some publisher will snap it up, and in a couple of years we’ll see a more polished version of the game. Better to wait until then.
Nov 5, 2009