By Henry Badilla / May 24th, 2017
|Title||She Remembered Caterpillars|
|Developer||Jumpsuit Entertainment UG|
|Publisher||Ysbryd Games, WhisperGames|
|Release Date||January 17, 2917|
For many, video games are a terrible way to tell a story. You have to stop the narrative to give the gameplay the spotlight, and since gameplay is what usually sells the game you can’t have the player sit through the story for too long or they will get bored. Others, on the contrary, have found ways to combine the gameplay with the narrative to provide a unique way to experience a story, something that neither books nor movies can give to the audience. She Remembered Caterpillars is what could be considered the mix between a Rubik’s cube and a book about the loss of a loved one, illustrated with cute creatures. That’s certainly a movie synopsis I haven’t heard before.
She Remembered Caterpillars feels like a game split into two parts. Side A is a Puzzle game in which we control a couple of cute, colorful creatures and move them through a maze to get from point A to point B. Side B is a story about a girl and her father, about loss, death and how to deal with these things. However, both sides share little in common.
The gameplay part of the game is really well made. As mentioned above, the concept is quite simple. Each of the characters has a different color and form. The basic creatures are blue and red, but as we progress more colors are introduced. The mazes are made of gates and bridges, which are also color-based. Only creatures that share a color can pass through a bridge, while the gate works the opposite, creatures that share the color can’t pass through it. On top of this, we can combine our creatures, so if we combine the blue and red creature we get a purple one, which can cross through both blue and red colors (since it shares one of each) but can’t pass through either blue or red gates.
The game manages to expand on this concept by introducing additional creatures of different colors, bridges that can only be crossed by combining creatures or forcing us to separate the creatures to be able to pass through a gate. After each Act (section) is completed, a new concept is introduced to the puzzles. The developers managed to do this in a brilliant way. Through all of the game, there are no tutorials, everything is taught to the player simply by playing the game. The first levels of each arc are made to teach us how the new mechanic works with the core concept, then provide us with an “advanced” use of it, to finally implement it with other mechanics previously learned. This is so well done that it feels natural and I never hit a wall during my 8 hours play that I felt that the game didn’t teach me how to overcome.
As you have probably noticed, the game revolves around color theory to identify the different characters, which can be a problem to a colorblind player. The developers thought of this so that’s why each of the creatures has a unique form (squares, circles, triangles) and when they combine they form is a mix of these. The Bridges uses the same form as the creatures that can pass through them as well. I used to have a colorblind friend, so I know this is something that a lot of games overlook. This is a very nice way to address this issue and allow everyone to play their game.
In regards to the art style, everything uses a hand-drawn style in the game. The design of the creatures is unique and cute and matches very well with the rest of the game assets. The backgrounds in particular for the HUD area and each level are impressive and very artistic, they have an abstract feel that invites you to sit down and appreciate it. While art is subjective and you can either love or hate the art style, the whole package is very well done and consistent with the melancholic mood of the game.
The music is quiet and sad. Each area has a different feel to it, some are more industrial, or more upbeat than others. And while the music is subtle and barely noticeable, it always reflects what we can see for each area. Most of it uses keyboards and pianos, and some ambient noises, like water, to capture the essence of the stage. It remained me a lot of the music of Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery by Jim Guthrie.
My main problem with the game is with Side B. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a paragraph or a snippet of a conversation. These are presented without context, with nameless characters speaking of unknown problems to the reader. The idea is that the player takes all these small details, fill in with his/her own theories and builds the story. However there are barely any details given, and only one of the chapters give us some insight into who exactly are the characters that we are using through the puzzles.
Each of these conversations is well written, and while I personally was not able to connect with it, I’m sure that there are people that will. The problem is that the game can be played while ignoring the story completely, it doesn’t bring anything to the game. There is no use of the gameplay to provide a new perspective to the story or to show us a part of the world where the protagonists live. Considering that each level can take between 5 to 20 minutes to complete, by the time you are seeing the next part of the story, you have been so focused on the last puzzle that you forget where the narrative was at, and that happens when you don’t use the medium as intended.
Besides my criticism on the narrative used in the game, I still feel it is a very enjoyable one that fans of the genre shouldn’t ignore at a price tag of $12. With imaginative puzzles, great art style, and a melancholic soundtrack, She Remembered Caterpillars is a great experience, the kind that we don’t get to enjoy as often as we would like.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Indiejumpsuit entertainment ugMac OSPCpuzzleShe Remembered Caterpillars