Written by  :  ponzo (85)
Written on  :  Aug 18, 2012
Platform  :  Windows

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful

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A hard and satisfying platformer

The Good

VVVVVV is one of those games that does one thing, but does it right. It's minimalistic in both aesthetic and gameplay. It's a platformer with simple but elegant mechanics. You use three keys: you can move to the left and right, and you can flip. Flip inverts gravity force, allowing you to switch from the floor to the ceiling. While flipping you can move horizontally, but not flip again mid-air.

The story is simple: your spaceship crashes and you find yourself trapped in a strange dimension. You must explore the space station to rescue your crew members, scattered around it. You can speak with your crew and read terminals to expand on what's happening.

During the level you have to explore the dimension you're in, navigating the environment while avoiding spikes, enemies and other hazards. You have a map that shows you the locations you've visited and those you need to go to, as well as teleporters and trinkets. I loved the exploration part of the game: even if the graphics are very simple, it gave me a sense of discovery, and it's also a relaxing pastime between levels.

Every set of levels adds different challenges, such as surfaces that bounce you off, looping rooms or moving platforms. Level design is very good, with smart use of space and interesting puzzles.

You die often in the game, but respawn instantly and near the point where you died: checkpoint are many and well placed, so you won't be frustrated having to do the same sections over and over. VVVVVV is challenging, requires good reflexes and fast reactions, but it's fair. You'll always know why you died and how you could've avoided it. There are optional trinkets to collect (that, when all collected, unlock a new location) that are often hard to reach, but they can easily be ignored: you can unlock everything in the main menu, if you want to.

After completing the main objective, you're free to roam around the map, exploring parts you may have missed and collecting trinkets. You also unlock different modes: time trials, no death mode (play the game without dying), flip mode (the game is flipped vertically). There are several player-made additional levels and an easy to use level editor to make your own maps.

I didn't mind VVVVVV simple, yet functional Commodore 64-style graphics: they're often abstract and you have to use your imagination to fill the gaps, but I liked them.

The game has many small details that make it charming: each room is individually named, your crew have something different to say depending on who you've rescued, there's an "analogue" (or old television set) mode, and many other little things that make you see how much care went into the game. Also, there are options for people with disabilities, such as removing the animated backgrounds or slowing the game's speed.

Lastly: I loved the chiptune music. Usually I find this kind of music annoying after a while, but not in this case.

The Bad

I enjoyed very much VVVVVV and didn't find many flaws in it.

The main game isn't too long, I completed it in two hours and a half. I don't think that's a flaw, however: it didn't outstay its welcome and was a satisfying experience. Also, the additional levels and the editor offer many hours of content.

During the game there are some rare checkpoints that are badly placed, requiring you to walk a few seconds to reach your objective. But that's nitpicking.

Some people may find the graphics bad, because it's not "real" pixel art, or because it doesn't work with the real limitation of the c64 and so on. I liked the aesthetic of it, finding it simple and pleasing, but I understand it may be not everyone's cup of tea.

The Bottom Line

VVVVVV it's easy to learn, hard to master. Its rules are simple, but that doesn't mean that it isn't challenging: difficult, but rewarding and never frustrating. I'm not usually a fan of platformers (probably because I'm not very good at them), but I heartily recommend this game.