And Yet It Moves

On Sunday I decided to play through a game that’s sat in my Steam library for a very long time.  I honestly can’t remember when I purchased it, it’s been so long that I had absolutely no idea what it was about.

That was why I investigated it, a quick trip to the Steam Store page revealed what sounded like a fun little indie title with a straightforward but interesting game mechanic.

The ability to rotate the game world adds a different element to gameplay, and although it can confuse you as to which way you’re supposed to be heading at times it is used relatively effectively most of the time.  I played with my PS3 controller hooked up to my iMac and at one point had to rebind my initial choice of world rotation buttons to make it a bit easier to rotate in the correct direction.  It helped, but at crucial world rotation points I still found I’d rotate the wrong way which was irritating, I would assume these occurrences would happen more often playing with a keyboard.

The artwork seems to be a fairly contentious point on the internet, some love it, some hate it.  I found that whilst playing through the game I’d be concentrating more on the character than the setting and quite liked the artwork, it’s quirky and I haven’t seen it anywhere else.  However, as soon as you start looking at the scenery you can tell it’s just simple images tiled over and over again and any brief analysis removes the magic of simplicity.  The character animation is relatively dull, you play as a sketched character with a highly annoying hairstyle, that’s pretty much the only thing worth noting about that.

Controlling the character is easy as pie.  Left, right and jump are all you need, most of the navigation is done by the world rotation mechanic.  Although simple, character control feels incredibly sluggish, the movement animation shows a running character, but running is not what you’re doing.  Jumping is awkwardly delayed, especially in levels where you must bounce increasingly higher on springy platforms.  I spent far too long trying to time the jumping correctly to gain height, only to miss once and have to start over.  Often times I would also find myself rotating the world too early due to the slow jumping and end up either falling straight to my death or rotating the world in all sorts of different directions to try and rectify the situation, only to die despite my efforts.

And on the subject of dying in the game, death doesn’t seem to be consistent, if that makes sense?!  Falling from a high place will make you die in most games, this is no exception, but the game seems to make up the height required to die depending on how it feels.  Sometimes you can fall from what seems to be an unsurvivable height and live, at these times you think to yourself “oh cool, I didn’t die”, but when the game decides that you’re going to die when you fall only a fraction of that same distance you’ll find yourself yelling obscenities at the monitor.

I also found myself thinking that in the presented environment it should be possible to use the game mechanics to ‘save’ yourself.  If skilled, quick world rotation was executed, you should be able to control your descent to a point at which you can safely land, compose yourself, work your way back and try again.  Sadly this isn’t the case, if you start falling, you’ll just speed up and die as soon as you hit something.  It is a frustrating experience, made even more annoying by the fact that there is an achievement unlocked if you “fall through a whole level from the first check point to the level end point (and rip there)”.  It’s the parentheses that bug me, clearly the developers have thought this possible (and 1.6% of players have proved that), why not make it more fun (especially for speed runners) by making it possible to land and complete the level in this way?!

And Yet It Moves is touted as a puzzle-platform game.  There are certainly platforms, but the puzzle aspect is severely lacking.  Most puzzles are just a mater of figuring out which way to rotate the world, most of which are a case of “I need to get there, which is 90 degrees from where I’m standing” and considering that this is the major mechanic of the game you get good at working out those problems very quickly.  There are certain instances where you have to use world rotation to make certain things go somewhere, examples are making bats fly in the correct direction to make a lizard run away (I don’t know either!?), or turning the world so that a falling droplet of water reaches a destination without hitting any of the scenery.  Despite being an interesting use of the mechanic, these puzzles are few and far between, only two or three per chapter, and aren’t very difficult at all.  There was only one puzzle in which I considered myself stuck, and that only took a few extra tries to figure out how to complete it.

The game is short, but most indie titles are so I’ll forgive it.  Unfortunately there is not much replay value for anyone who isn’t fussed about achievements or speed runs.  I can see that speed runners would have a blast at this (despite the lack of character speed), and some of the available achievements seem like they’d be almost impossible to get so folks could spend hours getting them all.  I’m not that kind of gamer though and my general view of the game is (as you can probably tell) not particularly great so I have no desire to open it up again in order to play through levels once more.  A level editor would be a great addition, being able to create your own levels and play through other people’s would be an incentive to return but for now you’re just stuck with the same 3 chapters.

I wouldn’t recommend And Yet It Moves. If you have a few hours and nothing else to play, it’ll help you kill the time, but I wouldn’t go out and buy it for any special reason.  The game feels unrefined, it requires polish, and some improvements to the control scheme and physics to make it more playable and less infuriating.

Thanks for reading.

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