Everyone knows the beauty of paper. It’s crumply, yet fragile make up shreds through most of your life. Indeed your life will begin on paper and end scrawled upon it as the certificate of what you achieved gets framed and hung in your children’s hallway. Paper is where all good ideas start and where the bad ones are mapped out in minute detail. It is the medium which can brag to be the bearer of all good news and moments of astute genius that we just do not want to let go. However brilliant it is though, paper is taken for granted and it is time that it showed its teeth. And Yet It Moves might just be the game that will make you respect this fragile fabric once again.
Set along three various landscapes made up of crumpled up paper textures And Yet It Moves by the small team at Broken Rules at times seems like a physics based platformer that explores the unknown world inside a paper bin. That is not to say that it is all set in the refuse of a troubled writer, instead the paper is adorned with different themes, vibrant not blank. Pictures of trees, clouds or animals are pasted on to the rippled textures and re-arranged to create a platforming environment that is familiar to most of us. Even your character is made out of paper, he himself is susceptible to rips and – with such a fragile body – he needs a lot of looking after to keep him alive.
Even thought the environments of AYIM are a unique but familiar in design, the way of traversing them is entirely exceptional. There is not a simple left to right way through each level; instead you have to manipulate your surroundings to help you on your way, by using the Wiimote to pause the game you twist and turn the environment around your wandering character. A tree that was once blocking your way can be flipped around so that you can walk along its trunk, it is now, after all, the floor. Also a gap that is too large to be simply leaped over can be made easily by turning the paper world so you’re no longer jumping on the spot but now in mid air, achieving the momentum you need to pull yourself forward to the next area.
This is the main mechanic of AYIM and one you are going to be using a lot. Twisting and turning the world to avoid traps and pitfalls, enemies and beasts. The physics of this manipulation are incredibly well utilised and the ingenuity of the level design will have you smirking with pleasure.
Platforms that would traditionally move up and down to try and halt your progression are replaced with branches of trees that wave in the wind, touching each other one second, only the next to be pulled apart. Or the branches themselves bend in upon the tree, so that by directing the world around you, your character ends up having to walk on the underside of the branch before you can flip the world back to its original state and then move onwards. Where there are traditional blocks found in platforms, these turn and move along with the world or disappear and re-appear in time with the music. Broken Rules have taken what you know about platformers and gone and flip reversed that mother.
To say I was captivated by AYIM is an understatement. The actual procedure of twisting the world becomes second nature very quickly and is introduced slowly but with just enough detail that you’ll feel like a pro within a few levels. The true allure though comes from the design of the levels. Some of them feel utterly natural to traverse and none ever feel too contrived when you get confronted with an enemy or puzzle. The character you play has no form of attack so again the design of the game is to use the mechanics in place to take out the enemies for you. Bats for instance won’t harm you whilst you’re in the caves but they will distract that Chameleon who has a tongue not susceptible to paper cuts. There is no way though to get the bats to do you bidding other than to manipulate the world so they share the same ceiling as the dastardly lizard. Always attracted to the top of the screen, like a fluttering Bat marble in a maze, you have to flip the world around so they fly to the top of the screen, on to the place destined for some Chameleon for supper. AYIM is so cunning and simple with a mechanic that feels never out of place, like the Earth revolving around the sun.
The detail and precision of the movements required is so precise and defined it is sometimes a shame that there are some minor bugs. The Wiimote responds well when using it like a key to turn the world but using it to ‘point and turn’ is a feature not without its problems. In either mode there are moments that you’ll blink through solid objects if you spin the world around too much. Also there are the occasional frame drops when there is a lot of Bat and Chameleon action on screen. These are only minor niggles that are unfortunately exaggerated by the lack of any manual ‘save’ function. To my knowledge the game saves automatically, however it never tells you when it is doing so and there is no option to save your profile in the main menu. This omission always left me somewhat scared to leap out of the game at any point, afraid that my unknown progress would be lost.
And while you’ll be glad when some parts are over and finished with, there is replay value in AYIM which it sure needs with a main spread reaching to a paper thin 3 / 5 hrs. Broken Rules have put in the right modes of temptation to get you coming back though with achievements, time trials, speed runs and turn limitations all available to unlock to test your other skills once the puzzles have been solved.
AYIM is a tremendous achievement. Fusing some ball grabingly good level design with some fantastic physics elements and sound design that all feel as tactile and glorious as crumpling up a piece of paper. Though however well implemented the mechanics and the re-imaginings of the genre, for some, may still not be enough to take the paper from their pocket…
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: Wii (PC, Mac) Release Date: 27/08/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of And Yet It Moves for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of four days on a Wii. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.