By Phil Schipper / August 27th, 2015
|Title||Replay: VHS is Not Dead|
|Release Date||July 9, 2015|
Being able to remember those old movie store signs that reminded us to “Be Kind — Rewind” is almost a sign of my age at this point. The idea that someone might base a game on that concept seems absurd. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening in new puzzle platformer Replay: VHS is Not Dead.
Harvey Aychess is a movie-loving guy who has a crush on the local rental store owner. As he’s rewinding some tapes to return, lightning strikes and erases their contents. Harvey’s attempt to fix the movies gets him sucked into the TV, to live the plot of four different films.
In each stage, you’ll have to control both Harvey and the movie characters with whom he teams up. At any time while controlling one character, you can hit the Rewind button and pick someone else. You’ll return to the start of the level, but any character you’ve already played as will repeat the last actions you gave them. The goal is to synchronize all the characters to get them to their individual goal points.
Characters can jump on each others’ shoulders to reach new heights. They also might have to help each other with things individual to the level, like buttons, movable blocks, doors, deadly lasers, reversed-gravity zones, and lots and lots of traps. As more of these things pile up, you end up having to play as each character several times. Since it rewinds to the beginning, you have to repeat your past actions before adding on, getting the timing just right, and there are times when you might even forget what a character was doing. Unfortunately, there is no way to simply watch what everyone has done so far without playing as one character.
The puzzles themselves tend to look daunting at first, but, as you work out what to do, you realize that it’s not a huge stretch of the brain to figure it out. I was rarely, if ever, stumped by a level. The challenge is in all of the steps it takes to get there. It forces you to think a little differently about the solution, breaking it apart into pieces and becoming more conscious of what you’re doing. If something isn’t going as planned… well, it’s definitely the fault of the player, not the game.
Within each of those four movies, there are fifteen main level puzzles, three bonus levels, and a “boss” puzzle like the Kraken to the left. Most of them have an optional key to collect (to unlock the bonus levels) and a Stopwatch that allows you to try to improve your time, if that’s your thing. These aspects are pretty much the main source of any replay value you might find in the game.
The movies themselves and the characters that inhabit them are not-so-subtle nods to real movies and shows like Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. The dialogue between them is decent — even witty, at times — but not really groundbreaking.
The graphics and the sound are consistent throughout the game, expressing the flavors of the different movies and the progression through them. What makes the graphics, in particular, interesting is the way it expresses the idea of looking at a video through a TV. It truly looks like you’re looking at this pixel-art world through the lens of an old tape-based video camera.
All in all, this game consists of around ten hours of surprisingly satisfying brain teasers. I’ll be honest — I wasn’t expecting much, which is why what I got was a nice surprise. If you’re looking for the usual puzzling tropes with an extra layer of twist, you can’t go wrong with Replay: VHS is Not Dead.
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
PCplatformerpuzzlePuzzle Platformerreplayvhs is not dead