Thursday, June 19, 2014

PC Spotlight #96: VVVVVV

Developer: Terry Cavanagh
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, IOS Universal
Price: $4.99, $2.99
So...I'm pretty late to the party here. Actually, given my love for precision platformers, I'm surprised I hadn't played VVVVVV earlier. But now I have, on both PC and IOS, and if I had to use one word to describe the game, it would be "masterful", Cavanagh's best work.
VVVVVV drops you onto a weird alien environment, one of the few survivors of a crash landing that leaves your fellow crew members scattered across the world. In that aspect, VVVVVV already separates itself from most precision platformers: it's non-linear. Actually it's almost in the vein of a Metroidvania; you travel to different areas, find teleporters that let you jump around the map or back to a central hub. Each area offers its own unique challenge, a twist on the core mechanics. At its core, besides the truly challenging gameplay, that diversity is what makes VVVVVV such a fun experience. Mechanically, the game is so simple: move left, move right, and jump (or rather a reversal of gravity that lets you navigate from floor to ceiling) You can control your movement, but can't change your gravity mid-jump, so each switch must be deliberate.
Yet from those simple controls, VVVVVV crafts such a wide range of challenges, hazards to avoid, and interesting scenarios. From the ubiquitous spikes to moving enemies, from barriers that switch your gravity orientation in mid-air, to utilizing screen wrap, VVVVVV takes its precision platfomer roots and not only delivers on that front, but also creates head-scratching puzzles and challenges to overcome
If you know Terry Cavanagh, you know what kind of experience to expect from VVVVVV. Brutally challenging, stylish with a chunky retro aesthetic, a fantastic soundtrack. Regarding the IOS version, I wasn't sure if touch controls could offer the required precision. But my fears were quickly swept aside once I started the game; the touch controls are responsive and precise, much better than I would have anticipated. I was even able to complete the infamous VeniVidiVici section on IOS (after 389 deaths, but I did it!).
If you're like me and somehow haven't played VVVVVV yet, then you're missing out. It's just a fantastic experience. You can purchase the game from its official site, Steam, and the App Store.

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