Ah, here we are in the world of the beloved puzzler genre. A world full of challenges, frustration, joy and gamer rage. But for some reason us gamers love it, even if we do suffer a broken controller every now and then. Now I must have been good somewhere along the lines, as I got to review a new contender in the puzzler world. it’s time to check out what I made of ‘Fearful Symmetry & The Cursed Prince‘.
The aim is simple yet treacherous. You must get the characters safely to the exit on each level to progress. An age old method that is beautifully simplistic – except this game has one massive twist to the tale. You control two characters at the same time, you could almost say in symmetry.
The characters don’t exactly copy one another though, it’s more like a mirror movement. If one goes up – the other goes down, one moves left – the other moves right; you get the idea now. So now you have a rudimental grasp of the controls, you’d think it’s plain sailing to the end and all is well … WRONG! We wouldn’t have a very good puzzler if there wasn’t an obstacle or two thrown in for a giggle, so this is where it gets interesting (also a digital nod to the creators for excellent level design). A prime example is a level called ‘Burning Feet‘ where the left side puzzle is full of fire and the right side puzzle is not. You really have to adopt the brain of a chess player and work things out otherwise failure is just one bum move away.
On your journey, you’ll come across hazards ranging all the way from something as simple as fire, to zombie arms popping out of the ground to grab you for an instant death. I’m not going to give away too many details as it will spoil the surprises (it is a puzzler after all and I don’t want to post spoilers). The biggest obstacle at times is a strange one; your mind. There are levels where overthinking will be your weakness, sometimes you need to just go for it instead of plotting and planning, although, other times you will need to be methodical – choose your strategy accordingly to the level you face.
You’ll also notice a very retro design to the graphics – it sports a Zelda style overview and the pixel design is a sheer delight to the eyes. I did find one rather annoying aspect of the design though, it was the sombre death jingle that played when you met your demise. But I want to be fair and confess that I died a lot while playing, nevertheless it became annoying to hear it every time I perished. Now I think about it, maybe the jingle is a good thing as I celebrated not hearing it with a twerk every time I successfully completed a level. As for the other sounds and music in the game, they are perfectly crafted to suit the environment. It’s very clear the team have spent a lot of time designing each and every aspect to be just right, then adding the polish to really make this game slick and smooth.
One other feature that stood out for me in my collection of puzzlers is the replay ability; this game is not a one trick pony. You might think that once you’ve completed all the levels, grabbed all the additional items and blitzed the bonus challenges, then it’s time for a celebration twerk and a cup of tea – you are very very wrong. You unlock an additional character when you complete the game, so there’s three in total. On first impression, this may seem a chore to complete everything again but it’s not; each character has an ability so you need to re-tune your brain as the same levels need a whole new approach. One level will seem extremely easy with one character, the same level will then become harder than a titanium reinforcement plate, with a different one. It’s a great way of using the same challenges but just making them more of a challenge. I’m unsure whether to shake the hand or the neck of the developers for this.
Overall, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this game as puzzlers often end up being far too easy or just outright annoying. This one is an exception in my eyes though; yes, it is challenging (often rage inducing), but I can happily say I enjoyed each and every level on offer. Some levels were a breeze and others made me question everything I’d ever done in life leading up to this point. You’re looking at about a six hour window to complete, and it’s not too difficult to obtain the full 1000g Gamerscore on offer – not a bad offering if I say so myself. But where does ‘Fearful Symmetry & The Cursed Prince‘ place itself in the puzzler genre? I’d place it in the top 25% as there’s better ones out there but there are so many that are worse – much much worse. You won’t be disappointed by getting this – it’s frustrating enough to still be fun and you do get the sense of satisfaction when you finish a level you’ve been stuck on for ages. It will appeal to the puzzle solvers among us and also the retro heads, or maybe you just want to pick up a reasonably priced game for some quick ‘pick me up’ gaming – this is perfect as the controls aren’t overly complicated. Unless you hate the puzzler genre, there’s no reason not to add this indie gem to your game collection.