Sunday, May 17, 2009

And Yet It Moves Review

And Yet It Moves, developed and published by Broken Rules.
The Good: Quite innovative, straightforward controls, online high score list
The Not So Good: High level of difficulty, extremely short, no map editor
What say you? This rotational patform game is unique but very challenging: 6/8

How many ways can you make “run and jump” interesting? Ever since the platform genre was firmly established with the venerable Super Mario Brothers, numerous games have attempted to make precision timing and traversing large gaps fun. I’ve reviewed my fair share of platform games, usually sticking to titles that have something new to offer. Enter the curiously-named And Yet It Moves, a platform game (surprise!) that has something new to offer (surprise again!). This time around (so to speak), you rotate the entire level. Sounds interesting, so let’s have at it!

The 2-D graphics of And Yet It Moves are reminiscent of Crayon Physics in that there is a steady distinct theme. In this case, each level consists of an arrangement of ripped paper, comprising the walls and objects for the landscape. While this choice obviously does not result in breathtakingly realistic vistas, the theme is applied well. Your character is more detailed than the rather bland textures (apart from the ripped-paper borders), although he could use some more animation detail. Despite the relative simplistic nature of the graphics, performance is a bit slower than I would have expected, although this is really only seen when rotating the level. And Yet It Moves isn’t the best looking platform game, but the characteristic visuals do the job. The sound design of And Yet It Moves is almost insignificant, with dreadfully occasional effects for in-game actions (like jumping and reaching checkpoints) and almost non-existent background music that is too subtle to even notice. I do like the sound effect when you die (or, more accurate, get separated into many pieces), but it’s clear a very minimalist approach was taken.

And Yet It Moves involves guiding your character through each of the game’s almost-twenty levels. The trip is a short one, taking only a couple of hours to plow through the game, assuming your aren’t subject to plentiful restarts. The lack of a map editor means that And Yet It Moves won’t grow due to user-based content. Although you can submit times from the competition mode online, there isn’t much reason to try the game again once you complete the adventure. A tutorial is integrated within the first two levels to teach the controls of the game, and the usually plentiful checkpoints positioned after each major area cut down on repetition.

And Yet It Moves is controlled with the keyboard (or a gamepad, if you prefer). You can move your character left and right and jump using our good friends the WAD keys, and rotate the map to the left, right, or flip using the arrow keys. I got the rotation controls backwards a lot when starting out, but after a while it became intuitive. Since there are no enemies other than the levels themselves and the occasional rocks that are affected by your changes in orientation, the challenge lies in the level designs, and they are quite challenging. And Yet It Moves requires a high level of precision and timing in order to land on the appropriate platform without falling to your death. The game does not visually indicate when you are falling too fast, so you have to use your best judgment and a good dose of trial and error. The levels are designed quite nicely, presenting new challenges around the bend that don’t become repetitive during the game’s short run. And Yet It Moves doesn’t have any difficulty settings, although it is admittedly difficult to do so in this game since the challenge results from the maps themselves. I would not say that And Yet It Moves provides an insurmountable challenge, but the game does require a lot of skill to navigate successfully through each level: casual or novice players beware.

And Yet It Moves takes a neat idea and creates a compelling but incredibly difficult platform game. The rotating mechanic never really gets old, although part of that has to do with the two-hour play time. The controls are quite intuitive once you become more experienced at the rotational aspect of the game. And Yet It Moves never becomes too frustrating, but there are only so many times you can redo the same sequence before giving up and trying again later (or not at all). Replay value is kept at a minimum thanks to the lack of a level editor and the brief campaign. The cost is $15 (now $10, as of 5/26/09) for two hours (or so) of enjoyment, although you could argue that the challenge mode with score submissions can extend the life of And Yet It Moves a bit further. I would have felt better about And Yet It Moves with a price point about $5 lower: for a comparison, Caster is about the same length at a third of the cost. Still, those looking for something refreshingly different and challenging in a platform game will enjoy And Yet It Moves.