June 25, 2010

Free Fun: A Review of jvgs

A few days ago on the xkcd fora I discovered a free game with a similar minimalistic artistic style to the xkcd comics. This game is called jvgs.

JVGS is a free, open source platformer for the PC, Mac and Various Linux distributions. In jvgs you play as a poet trapped in a dangerous world that is fading away. All that is left are broken streams of thoughts that tell the story. The story that is told by these streams of thoughts are the poet's memories of the past and also tell of his sadness as the world that he once knew begins to fade away into nothingness.

The game has a simple system for controls. The left and right keys move you left and right respectively, while space bar allows you to jump and the left Ctrl button allows you to use weapons and abilities. The controls are fairly responsive however they can easily get you killed if you miss your jump by just a wee bit. If you die in this game you are sent back to the title screen where you can choose to quit the game, when you come back after closing the game out what level you are on is saved, or you can try that level again.

The levels are all fairly short and range in difficulty from "so easy i could do this in my sleep" to "facesmashing into the keyboard hardness". All the levels contain platforms which are formed by the poetry, and yes you can fall between words to your death. I have only became stuck in between letters once in the multiple times I have beat this game. In each of the levels you have to reach the end which is a shape that will lift you up to the next level. The level objectives vary from killing your way across the level, to collecting objects to a boss fight against a giant fanged pacmanesque monster.

To kill an enemy you must jump on it, like in Super Mario, or use a weapon on it such as the grenade or throwing knife. The main enemies in the game are these rodent like creatures, which can be quite lethal if you miss your jump, crabs that move around in no particular pattern at high speeds, porcupines that if you jump on them you will be impaled to your death, velociraptors, strange flying creatures and venus fly trap monsters that you must jump over top of.

JVGS's soundtrack consists of tracks from Nine Inch Nail's Ghost I-IV album which consists solely of instrumental music. The music greatly adds to the melancholic atmosphere throughout the game. The game has not much for sound effects other then when you crush your enemies, when you use equipment and when you die.

I would recommend jvgs to anyone who enjoys the xkcd webcomic and platformers. It is a fun, simple and quick game that takes about a half hour to beat on your first playthrough if you are not a god at platformers. This is a beautiful game with a unique minimalistic art style and excellent poetry.

No comments:

Post a Comment