Let’s break for a moment from the usual indie adventure games’ reviews for a different kind of indie. The thing is VVVVVV is such a perfect game to write a concise opinion piece about – the powerful main concept defining its gameplay is as simple and sharp as its title. Basically, VVVVVV is a platformer in which you can’t jump, you can’t shoot, you don’t use any power-ups, but instead, regardless of where you are, you can always switch the source of gravity from what’s beneath you to what’s above you et cetera and vice versa!

OK, so if you haven’t figured it out yet, “VVVVVV” stands for the spikes which you’ll get impaled on while carelessly playing with gravity!

But let’s talk visuals! The visuals of VVVVVV have been apparently inspired by Commodore 64’s limited color palette and the simple pixel art it was capable of displaying. So the game’s actual resolution is something like 320×200, yet even those 2 (admittedly smallish) numbers don’t do justice to the charming minimalism of the art style (just look at those lovely screens!). These sort of graphics manage to provide a very effective and pleasant presentation of action-packed gravity-on-and-off-switching, somewhat reminiscent of arcade classics from 30 years ago. They also give the TRON like feel of a world inside the computer with a tinge of hallucinogen-induced psychedelic visions (Watch out for the pulsating elephant!). And no matter what I’ll write in here, the brilliant retro soundtrack by Magnus Pålsson can explain what VVVVVV looks like much better, even though it has no lyrics – that’s how fitting it is.

What is the game about then? You’re Captain Viridian – a light-blue guy with a honest looking and smiley face. There’s some complex inter-dimensional malfunctions plot going on in the background of course. But what it all boils down to is that a huge open world awaits you outside your ship – an alien place filled with sharp, pointy things. The primary goal of exploring it will be tracking the lost members of your crew. They are imprisoned in several different, tightly-designed levels with entrances well hidden within the main area. Each level comes with its own musical motif and some peculiarities of gameplay. And if you insist on learning more about those now, I can tell you that they revolve around modifying the way Viridian can move around, but other times are entirely devoted to more elaborate ways of confusing the player’s sense of spatial orientation. Every time you find someone from your crew, you’ll be able to visit that person regularly in your ship and ask for advice (if you’ll be feeling down, they might even offer you a lollipop!).

With all the spikes and the high difficulty level I got a kind of a S&M vibe from the way VVVVVV tries to entertain you. In fact each singular screen receives a special title – many of which are a kind of taunts underlining the sadistic nature of the challenge directly ahead of the player with deliciously snappy black humor. Beware in particular of the screens with titles written in Latin! Some of the trickiest and puzzliest challenges in the game are not obligatory though – they are connected to the side-quest of collecting shiny trinkets known as “shiny trinkets”. Doesn’t sound too interesting perhaps, but the game makes sure you become intrigued by them (their challenges are unique). And you should be! Because the main quest alone can be easily completed in about 4 hours, while finding all the trinkets can add between an hour or two of gameplay. Personally I found this the perfect length for VVVVVV – it’s a fine-tuned complete package. But if it’s not enough for you, then just a day ago, that’s A DAY AGO, the creator of VVVVVV Terry Cavanah released a level editor as a free bonus to the game! Last, but not least, you can currently buy VVVVVV bundled with several other excellent indies (Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, Hammerfight and And Yet It Moves) for what you want to pay! That’s WHAT YOU WANT TO PAY! Go buy, play and be happy (and have a Veni, Vidi, Vici)!

Igor’s Score: 4 of 5 starks