16: VVVVVV

Hereafter referred to as V^6 for proper simplification. I could sum up this game in a very negative three words: Indie Retro Platformer. Even forming those syllables causes my senses to go dead, desperate to avoid it. Even reading those three words is gradually causing my eyes to feel heavier and heavier…right. Let’s do this

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V^6, as is the wont of indie retro platformers, is based entirely on one novel mechanic. There’s very little in the way of controls, left moves you left, right moves you right, and space flips the gravity so you walk on the ceiling instead. Guess which one of them is the novel and interesting mechanic, well done. Disaster has struck on your spaceship and your crew members are missing! You, Captain Viridian, must rescue them by going, left, right and flip.

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This map is the part of the reason that V^6 goes above and beyond its apparent limitations. It’s not a series of missions, but one huge map with every single part connected up. I cannot emphasise how much my enjoyment of the game was improved by the fact I could look at that map, set a course, and if I was finding something too difficult, go away and do something else instead. You’re not working your way across levels, you are exploring, a sort of Quantum Spelunker. You have hints about where objects of interest could be, and you plot your way towards them. As you near an area of danger, the landscape becomes more difficult to traverse, spikes and platforms begin to appear and you steel yourself for the challenges ahead.

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Because challenges they are. V^6 is of the Super Meat Boy school of thinking: failure should be constant and the penalties for failure should be nonexistant. All you need to do at any time is get to the next savepoint, and you could do that first time or you could take fifty attempts. Doesn’t matter, you just have to make it there and then you never have to do that particularly horrible bit again. To get the one above, walk along the platforms while flipping the gravity. To get the one below, similar! Except the strings will do the flipping for you. The first one takes a couple of attempts, the one below took me about fifty.

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But you keep going and because there is no real penalty for failure beyond “do that again”, each savepoint is a glorious victory. The game also has some exceptionally driven music, chiptunes packed with density and pace and so forth, that keep your feet tapping and your nerves on edge. The music is useful to some extent, it can be incredibly difficult to see the timings necessary to do a jump, but you can match it to the furious rhythm going on in the background. I noted that if something is happening regularly on-screen it will match the music that you’re playing and this can be a great help in getting past, dunno if this is intentional or just a lucky coincidence.

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At the end, your stats. Given how short it is, and how many trinkets I couldn’t be arsed trying to get (there’s 20 in total dotted around the whole map you’re exploring, hidden behind particularly challenging sets of spikes), it’s a definite candidate for replaying, especially now I know what I’m doing on the main puzzles. Good game, good game, exactly what Indie should be. Quick, simple, replayable.

3 stars, 2 hours spent.

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