VVVVVV, from solo developer Terry Cavanaugh and published by Nicalis, is a retro-inspired 2D side scrolling game that is as much a puzzle game as it is a platformer. The hook of the game is that instead of jumping, your character can essentially reverse gravity allowing you to walk on the roof or ground at will.
I remember playing VVVVVV a long time ago when it was still young and in flash format, and back then I fell in love with the game mechanics, and in the full release I felt it used these mechanics quite effectively.
The game contains a main story mode, a plethora of unique player-made levels, and various other challenges that are unlocked once you complete the main game, such as a no death challenge mode, and time trials. These added modes more than made up for the short main game, which ended faster than I expected.
The story mode contains various main levels, which are broken up by a sort of overworld players must roam around to find the entrance to the levels. The purpose of the levels is to get through them to find your missing crew members, and to sometimes lead them to a teleporter in intermission levels.
The levels are wonderfully crafted, utilize the games mechanics perfectly, and even through in some surprising new obstacles in the later game. There are also collectibles scattered around the level, which are often hidden behind more difficult puzzles, and unlock songs to play in the game.
Speaking of music, the games soundtrack is excellent. It exudes that retro style you would expect, and I found it to be memorable as well as fitting the game style perfectly. For fans of video game music, the ability to listen to the music on an in-game jukebox is always a welcome addition.
Overall, I found VVVVVV’s level design managed a great balance between being difficult but also accessible. There was never a time when I felt the game was too difficult, and because of how well the challenges were designed there was a sense of accomplishment I felt after getting through sections.
While a short experience, it was a great one nonetheless, and exhibits unique mechanics and expert level design to match it. Although it is over seven years old now, VVVVVV still stands in the upper echelon of difficult 2D puzzle platformers, and that still applies to its Switch release. If you are a fan of games in this genre, then there is no reason not to play it. 9/10
*This review is based on the Switch version of the game, it is also available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, as well as IOS and Android devices*