And Yet It Moves
When a game’s moniker comes from Galileo’s rumoured defiance of the Inquisition, you know from the outset that it’s going to be quirky. The quote is said to have been the physicist’s muttered response following his retraction of the theory that the Earth moved around the Sun. Nearly 400 years (and many scientific breakthroughs) later, a group of indie developers have decided to show Galileo their support.
And Yet It Moves began life as an award-winning concept demo which has been expanded into a full game, available exclusively via digital distribution platforms. The concept is simple; run, jump and dodge your way to each level exit. The twist is that, much like the Earth to the sun, the game world can be revolved around the main character. Not only does this offer reassurance to the more self-centred gamer, but also allows for a unique and fresh take on the 2D platforming genre. Can’t make it over an obstacle? Simply rotate the world in increments of 90 degrees (or a 180 flip if you’re feeling adventurous) and turn the walls into the floor and so on. Hailed as a puzzle-platformer by the developers, And Yet It Moves’ early levels promise a wide variety of traps to twist, gaps to flip and puzzles to solve. From catapulting your paper man over a chasm he’d otherwise plummet down, to bouncing bananas to a hungry gorilla, there’s plenty of variety.
Unfortunately it doesn’t take long for And Yet It Moves to fall into a pattern of familiarity which, in a game with a running time of little more than a couple of hours, is unforgivable. While AYIM may look varied on the surface, there are only a few types of challenge; either guide the character across tricky jumps, use parts of the environment (i.e. a swing or a bouncing platform) to reach an area, or guide an object through a maze. No matter what the environment looks like or what type of object you’re guiding, there’s no disguising the fact that there isn’t that much thinking to be done. You’ll rarely be stumped on a section, unsure of how to proceed.
In fact, AYIM’s core challenge comes not from discovering what to do but actually pulling off said solution. The way forward is usually fairly clear, but the oft-fiddly platforming and floaty main character lead to far more retries than patience can tolerate. Likewise, there are a fair few sections that can only be solved by trial and error, with the first attempt leading to death in order to show you how to continue. It’s very archaic 8-bit design that – while teeth-gnashingly frustrating – is also a faithful love letter to platformers of old.
Perhaps death in AYIM would not be so irritating if it were not for the exclamation of TCSH! that the game makes upon your character exploding into pieces. Hearing this TSCH! noise over and over again is enough to set even the most placid of teeth on edge. It’s up there alongside the ‘one heart left’ bleeping of Zelda and the missed note screech from Guitar Hero in the List Of Aural Irritants In Gaming. The rest of the sound design is eclectic and noteworthy; a mixture of whistles, echoes, animal calls and wind sounds, gradually building into a crescendo of music as the game progresses. It’s not until the end when the soundtrack properly kicks in.
The music gradually building up accompanies the shift in visuals; the game begins in a rocky underground lair, progressing into a lush jungle until eventually you find yourself in an unfamiliar, psychedelic world. It’s all done very naturally, so much so that you barely notice the graphical shift with each level. The ripped paper collage style of the game only serves to reinforce the artistic merits of the game, offering a simple yet interesting visual style. It’s a shame then that the main character looks somewhat out of place. While the intention is clearly for him to look like a doodle, something a bit tidier and a little less demonic-looking would have been nice.
To compensate for the main game being fairly short, AYIM contains online leaderboards (complete with downloadable ghost data) as well as in-game achievements which range from fun (surfing on objects) to unreasonable (play AYIM for 3 and a half hours without quitting – a bit rich, considering the whole game isn’t even that long). Even so, with a £12.49 price point on Steam it’s hard to gauge whether AYIM is worth the cost with both Braid and World of Goo available for similar prices. AYIM is a novel, fun and incredibly infuriating game that will pass the time, just don’t expect it to turn your world upside-down.
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