display | more...

VVVVVV is a compelling and interestingly pronounced puzzle platformer by indie game developer Terry Cavanagh. After something goes wrong with the ship's teleporter, your character, the brave captain Viridian, must rescue all five of your similarly V-named crewmates and get back to your home dimension! However, instead of jumping, like in other platformers, Viridian has the ability to flip—that is to say, he can reverse gravity at will, when he is standing on the ground.

    ################    
  ####################  
  ######    ####    ##  
  ######    ####    ##  
  ####################  
  ####################  
  ######            ##  
  ########        ####  
    ################    
        ########        
    ################    
  ####################  
########################
####    ########    ####
####    ########    ####
      ############      
      ####    ####      
    ######    ######    
  ######        ######  
  ######        ######  

It plays vaguely like a Metroidvania, but there are no powerups, and the world is absolutely sprawling. Twenty shiny trinkets (the optional collectibles du jour) are scattered about the map, as are four main dungeon-like areas for the rescue and retrieval of your crewmates. Everything else in the Dimension VVVVVV (the overworld) is quirky, swoopy, and jagged-y terrain for you to explore. It gets even more interesting when you remember that you can't jump: instead, you must flip and hope for the ground on the other side even when encountering half-block-high steps! Of course, the dungeon areas are a lot more constrained—the puzzles usually only one screen large, occasionally spanning two—but are generally where the game offers its serious challenge.

And challenge it is. Many have noted that VVVVVV looks and plays like a Commodore 64 game; Terry even admits this himself, stating that a lot of this game was him indulging in his retro-fetish. In accordance with this idea, VVVVVV is also lauded for its high difficulty, just like the old games. It isn't insurmountably hard, but it definitely demands a certain level of devotion, especially towards the end of the game. Add that to the ease with which you can recover from a death—you respawn almost immediately at the most recently touched mini-checkpoint, with no penalty but a death-counter++—and you get a very addictive game, which mitigates the frustration very well. This, when coated in artfully applied neon colours and accompanied by a catchy chiptune soundtrack, is essentially VVVVVV.

"Essentially." What else is there? Well, for one, the very evident care taken in VVVVVV's level design. It's not a terribly easy thing, to consistently capture that feeling where you start off, confident in your strategy, before suddenly coming to a realization halfway through of the true devilishness of the puzzle at hand; however, Terry builds this feel into his levels so deftly that you can pretty much expect to find that kind of innovation throughout. Without spoiling too much, I'll give an example: one level introduces the concept of screen-wrapping, i.e. reappearing on the left side of the screen if you go off-screen on the right side. This starts factoring into many of the puzzles, until you get to one room that houses a trinket and a clear path to the next room. There doesn't appear to be any use for the screen-wrapping gimmick in that room, until you realize how one is meant to get the trinket, which involves hugging the screen-boundary while dodging flying enemies. Especially in the heat of the moment, these puzzles, while frustratingly difficult, are redeemed by their ingenuity.

  ######        ######  
  ######        ######  
    ######    ######    
      ####    ####      
      ############      
####    ########    ####
####    ########    ####
########################
  ####################  
    ################    
        ########        
    ################    
  ####        ########  
  ##            ######  
  ####################  
  ####################  
  ##    ####    ######  
  ##    ####    ######  
  ####################  
    ################    

In short: a fun retro-styled puzzle platformer built around a gravity-flipping mechanic and sporting a memorable level of difficulty. It was awarded the IndieCade "Most Fun and Compelling" game award in 2010. You can find it at its website, thelettervsixtim.es, for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and Terry's website is distractionware.com. The soundtrack, PPPPPP, by SoulEye, can be found at his website, or on Bandcamp here.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.