Scarygirl is the latest action-platformer to hit the digital shelves of the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live services. This game takes its roots from the original graphic novel “Scarygirl” by Nathan Jurevicius. The game follows an adolescent named, obviously enough, Scarygirl. Her parents died when she was much younger, but luckily, an octopus named Blister took her under his tentacle. Blister built her a house to live in, gave her clothes, and provided her with companionship. Scarygirl was happy, but every night she would have nightmares. These nightmares would eventually cause Scarygirl to find out where these terrible dreams were coming from, and that is where the journey begins.
The best part of the game, and thankfully, the first thing noticed, is the art style. Scarygirl looks and feels quirky. It has some light horror elements mixed in, and it feels like a Tim Burton production. The colors are bright and stand out on the screen against the somewhat muted backgrounds. The animations look smooth, and the game runs well. Most of the fun of the game comes from its creepy atmosphere, and it is a lot of fun to see what encounters are going to happen next. Whether it is some strange enemy or a new area to explore, the game keeps the visual style engaging.
Scarygirl is unmistakably an action-platformer. Luckily, the platforming elements are strong, and veterans of the genre should feel right at home. This game is difficult, but it does not approach the difficulty of some of the hardcore platformers out there. Scarygirl has two main attacks, a light and a heavy attack. She can also juggle opponents for a few hits, allowing for combos. Scarygirl also has a regular jump, but if the button is held, she will float for a short time.
Scarygirl is not heavy, and she can easily jump over or under a platform, so precision can be an issue from time to time. Luckily, this can always be corrected by floating back to the original platform, or using the float function to correct your trajectory. Finally, Scarygirl has a rage meter, and once enough enemies have been defeated, “scarymode” can be activated. This mode increases the damage of your attacks exponentially, but only lasts a few moments.
There are plenty of collectibles to find in the game. There are two main collectibles crystals and health power-ups. Crystals are the in-game currency, and more powerful damage and environmental power-ups can be purchased with them. The collectibles are not necessary to find, but they make the game much easier, and it contributes to the final score for the level. Instead of health packs, the game uses a crystal-purchased ability to refill your health. Finding the health power-up in the level will boost your health as well, but the ability is a much more effective means of healing yourself.
Later on in the game the difficulty increases, but the way this game ramps it up is frustrating. In the later stages, Scarygirl throws out hordes of enemies, which under normal circumstances would be reasonable, but it becomes impossible to defeat all the enemies encountered without taking extensive amounts of damage. Being overwhelmed with enemies feels unfair rather than challenging. This would make any player want to skip the combat sequence all together just to move forward. A way around this is to bring in a friend to play the game cooperatively, but this should not be the answer to poor enemy placement.
There are a number of boss battles in the game, and they are a nice reprieve from the regular jump-and-attack gameplay. Damaging the bosses becomes the new focus of the game, and figuring out how to do so makes this game feel fresh. Unfortunately, there are only a few times when bosses are encountered, so enjoy them while they last.
Overall, Scarygirl is a solid action-platformer. The game has a charming visual quality, and it is an excellent adaptation of the graphic novel. The gameplay is solid, and most of the difficulties with the controls are easily corrected. The biggest challenges come with being overwhelmed with enemies, but if that sounds like something that can be managed, this game will prove to be fun and rewarding.
[xrr rating=7/10, max_stars=10]
This review is based on a review copy of the 360 version of Scarygirl provided by Square Enix