Scarygirl might be familiar to some. She is a bit of a cult character, starring in a comic by the same name. She was created by australian artist Nathan Jurevicius (who has an awesome name), however I first became aquiantanced with her trough a flash game free to play on the internet. This was a 2D platformer (which can be found here) and I absolutely loved the art in it. So when the 3D platformer Scarygirl was put on Steam, I didn’t hesitate to buy it, possibly because I had just came home from a get together at a pub and was a little drunk and also it was 20% off. When I woke up the next morning I was a bit more in doubt but it was already done then. Anyway.
Scarygirl is a little girl adopted by an octopus named Blister. She has a tentacle for one hand and a bone for the other and dresses in pirate’s clothes that Blister fished up from the sea. She goes on a quest to find a man who keeps appearing in her dreams, and might as well save the tree of knowledge when she’s at it. On her way she is helped by Bunniguru, a giant bunny dressed like a fabulous frenchman. It is possible for a second player to join in; this person then takes the role of the Bunniguru. I haven’t gotten to try this so I don’t know how well that works.
This 3D rebirth of Scarygirl tries as best it can to retain the artistic quality of the graphic novel and the 2D platformer, but unfortunately looses some of the charm of its flat sisters. However, it is still a fun, colourful and pretty game and I am enjoying it immensely. This game re-uses the beautiful music from the 2D sidescroller and its core gameplay mechanics; while being 3D Scarygirl only moves along one set path, sometimes allowing you to choose a path where the roads split. It’s a 3D rebirth of classic 2D platformers, which is quite cool. I think it’s awesome when your path swirls around instead of just going straight ahead on the screen, and it allows for some artistic camera angles.
The gameplay does not require you to be quick, but lets you move at your own pace. The platforming elements are very classic; jumping on things, avoiding falling rocks and spikes and whatnot. I did not find it to be a challenging platformer experience, clearly designed with children in mind, but I think we all know how frustrating games like the classic Mario, that require pin-precise co-ordination is. The only truly aggravating part of the game is a diving level at the end
Now here's a super classical platforming obstacle; the heavy things trying to crush you moving in a cascade.
Along with the platforming challenges you have plenty of enemies to combat as well. Scarygirl, as her name suggests, is in no way helpless. With a hook-arm to sling around and a rage mode that surely puts the Scary in Scarygirl, she is a force to be reckoned with. The regular creatures are sometimes a bit plenty and get dreary to fight over and over again, but the game also features boss fights that are more challenging. You also collect gems in the game, and with them you can buy new moves and different attachements to her hook arm, allowing you to augment her abilities, such as an anchor making her attacks more powerful, a fish allowing her to dive for longer and a feather which allows her to hover further.
This game has a clean, colourfully graphic style with detailed, lively backgrounds which I really enjoy. The look is drawn from the surreal imagery inspired by asian art and decoration used in the graphic novel. The environment is alive, too; it is filled with creatures peeking out behind trees, or hopping out of bushes to get you. We follow Scarygirl trough her journey trough several different environments, starting out in her tree house home and following her trough the forest and into the city. The environments feel familiar but always have a psychedelic and decorative twist.
I think my favourite enviroment in the game is when Scarygirl enters a busy jazz bar. The atmosphere in this level is just amazing. There are people playing cards around tables, pouring drinks into glasses, talking and clearly interacting with each other in a very animated way, and huge, blue bartender monsters swirl glasses around and waiters walk about, and big round lamps filled with fish dangle in the roof, providing the scene with a warm, dim light. There is even a jazz band on a stage.
I really love the creature and character designs this game has going. The very graphic, flat style of the graphic novel is clearly alive in them, but the artists did a good job incorporating it to 3D.
The game is pushed along with a simple story, told to you by a calm narrative voice as you progress to the next level, often giving you a hint at challenges to come in the following level.
The game might not be as pretty as the 2D game or the comic. It’s not an exceptionally inventive experience, but it’s a fun game with pretty art that I can appreciate none the less. The game also allows for 2-player, so I imagine that if you have younger siblings or something, they’d find it lots of fun to join in. My only regret is that I did not buy this on Xbox Live instead; I find the keyboard controls a bit clumsy to get used to. It’s not very long, but it’s what you expect at the price it’s availabe at.