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Video Game Review: TANGLEWOOD – A Nostaglically Beautiful Puzzle/Platformer

Taking a page from the past in game development, studios, consisting of developer Matt Phillips, looked to bring us a that would have fit in with our titles from the past. This SEGA Megadrive inspired titled is a puzzle platformer which I recently got ahold of. The game looks and sounds good, but how well does it play? I look past the past and into what this title holds for gamers new and old alike. Join me as we stroll through a true retro gem – In 2018.

Overview

Developer Evil Big Corporation
Platforms PC (Windows, OSX and Linux), Itch.io, SEGA Mega Drive, SEGA Genesis
Worldwide Release
August 2018
Genre Puzzle/Platformer
Price
£13.99

Review

Story

The forest has become a dangerous place – At least when it comes to night time. The nimble Nymn, a graceful fox who is free to leap and run about, finds himself stuck in a world that always appears to be out to get him. Help Nymn get some rest, by getting him to the end of each chapter, in a safe spot. Along the way, he’ll encounter Fuzzls who also need to return to the safety of their nests. The Fuzzl’s help Nymn unleash his incredible powers, on a dangerous, treacherous journey.

Gameplay

TANGLEWOOD is a Puzzle/Platformer, which means that you take elements of platforming titles and add puzzles that get you to wander the map. You control the protagonist, Nymn, via the arrow keys and using ASD as your three buttons for actions. A allows you to move objects, such as Fuzzls and boulders. S is to use a special power that the colour you’ve got activated grants. D is your jump button. You can change all of these via keybind options, once you hit Esc in game.

There are a few different coloured Fuzzl’s – So I won’t spoil all of them, but the ones you encounter early on are the Red Fuzzl (Does nothing), the Yellow Fuzzl (Grants Nymn the ability to glide), the Green Fuzzl (Grants the ability to slow down time drastically) and the Blue Fuzzl (allows you to control evil beasties and ride them). Pressing S activates the ability that Fuzzl grants. You must take a Fuzzl to a nest with a light, which allows you to then obtain the power it represents.

Your goal is to get from the start to the end of the level, simple enough. Along the way, you will encounter a variety of enemies, such as charging boars, hellish creatures of the night and cute squirrel like creatures, who will betray you the moment they can when it gets dark. As you progress through the levels in each chapter, the woods gets darker, making it more dangerous to go through. Many of the creatures are pretty simple, such as charging at you at full pace – This means you can trap them by making them rush into a wall, or down into a pit – Or better yet with the larger creatures, you can get them to stand by a wall and you drop a boulder on their head for the kill. Grim!

Nymn also encounters fireflies throughout the game – These are the games collectables and most levels appear to have 8 of them. There’s 168 fireflies in total in the game and one thing I really like – The game is quite forgiving on the hitbox for you collecting them. They are tiny, but once you’ve seen what they look like, they become pretty easy to gather up. Well worth considering going for the achievements in this one!

You will encounter objects that make you bounce, such as mushrooms, as well as dangerous terrain such as spikes and pitfalls. You can also find holes which you can jump into by pressing D and landing in the centre of the pit. This’ll usually bounce you back out, or sometimes it’ll take you to another area of the map. Well worth keeping your eye out for these, especially where Fuzzl’s are concerned, as they can also go into these pits.

Graphics

Take it from me – The artwork in this game is simply stunning. Nymn is animated amazingly, along with the sleep animation and more. Everything about the character, from when he twirls around after activating one of his fur colour changes, to when he collapses due to damage – Nymn is a stunning looking model and the enemies look excellent too. They all give you a sense of dread and in some of their cases, you may mistake them for being friendly, until they suddenly turn!

Our gallery for TANGLEWOOD below:

Audio

This one’s a bit tricky for me – The only potential negative of the game. The audio itself sounds fantastic, so let me begin by saying the music is genuinely really gorgeous. However, it stops – A lot. There are lots of times when you just hear the patter of Nymn’s feet, or the falling of rain. However, whenever the music does kick in, it’s honestly one of the most beautiful sounding games I’ve heard in a while. I’m reminded of games of old, where the music just kept going and going – However, what you do get in TANGLEWOOD is just fantastic.

Have a listen! You may be impressed to hear that the game uses the actual audio chip from the SEGA to create some wonderful audio. I just wish I had a bit more of it!

Overall

Whilst I can’t say how TANGLEWOOD performs on the SEGA Megadrive itself, I can tell you that the Steam version is genuinely stunning. It’s a beautiful, well thought-out title, which easily could have sat on our shelves back in the 80’s and 90’s. Would this have been successful back in the day? I believe it’d certainly have had a chance. The platforming element is simple, but easy to understand. The puzzle aspect is challenging, yet easy enough that even a child could at least understand it. The game gives you a sense of achievement when you work things out, but if you struggle, the SEGA inspired game manual is only an ‘Esc’ press away.

All in all, this is a triumph and Evil Big Corporation have a lot to be proud about. This game took them six years to make – and I see why. It’s lovingly crafted, with beautiful animation, using limited technology. If you’re a fan of retro titles, what do you make of TANGLEWOOD? Have you had a chance to play it for yourself yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebobok and Twitter.

P.S: If you’re not sure whether you’ll love it or not – Check out their demo on itch.io!

P.P.S: Oh, did I mention that if you buy the Steam version, the company are really cool – They’ll give you an emulator friendly version of the game within your files? Not only that, but most interestingly, they have their font available to be installed too. Funky little touches like this just get extra thumbs up here!

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