Developer Jeppe Carlson, well known for his work on the successful indie title Limbo, has taken a stark change of direction. This new game, which he developed during off-time from duties at Playdead Studios, has been described as a “minimalistic platformer.”
The player takes control of a small geometric object, which changes shape throughout the game. It’s a square when stationary, a circle when moving left or right, and a triangle when jumping or falling.
Carlson set out to create an old-school platformer, combining the classic elements of tight control and pattern navigation with the new generation of rhythm based platformers. The electronic music created by Jakob Schmid is used as a base for obstacles and patterns. Blocks of black and white static form the ‘instant-death’ zones, which revert the player back to the most recent checkpoint.
The central premise of the game revolves around the fact that the music forms the basis for each level. The player must seek out small colourful spheres and bring them to a door. This then leads them onto the subsequent level, with a different colour palette and a higher, more kinetic set of music.
With each door unlocked, the levels progress in difficulty and more obstacles begin moving in and out of existence in time with the music. As the beat becomes more complex and more parts are added to the constantly moving level, the player must synchronise their movements with the music while figuring out the order in which they need to move.
Like Limbo, the seemingly complex nature of these constantly moving puzzles is in fact simplicity in an elegant disguise. The beat will change with progress and in order to continue, the player must improvise and adapt to the fast moving levels.
Navigation around instant-death obstacles rely on a person’s spatial awareness, reflexes, and most importantly, an understanding of the pulse pounding music that surrounds you at all times.
The constantly changing world will lead to many missteps and those unfamiliar with rhythm games and platformers will regularly find themselves falling into deliberately placed traps.
The sparse seconds between death and respawn, however, allow the player to quickly get back into the rhythm of the level. While the boss battles present at the end of each of the three levels add extra tense moments of frantic movement and mental mathematics.
The game itself is relatively short and rarely frustrating. With a mix of tight controls, an excellent art style and music to die for, 140 is definitely worth the small asking price.