You’ll always find symmetrical opposites throughout the world of fiction. Star Wars is all about the opposing battles between light and dark and the fine line that lies between the two, whilst heroes and villains are the ying and yang of a narrative’s main thrust. But what would happen if you’re put in control of both the light and the dark characters, at exactly the same time, while trying to navigate your way through the two strange worlds they occupy? Well, my friend, you’ve just entered the world of Fearful Symmetry & the Cursed Prince.
This plucky puzzler is a game not to be judged on its initial retro looks, because there’s a lot of fun to be had underneath – and it’s also very rather clever. The screen is divided into two, with the one on the left holding claim to our hero, who has recently found the symmetry scrolls which have cursed him. On the other side of the screen is an alternate universe with a darker version of the hero populating a scarier place. You progress on a journey throughout each level to try to get out and lift the curse… I think. The story was secondary to me you see, because Fearful Symmetry & the Cursed Prince is all about the journey and those puzzles you encounter.
How the game works is that you view both screens in a top down perspective. You control both the characters at the same time, but they move in the opposite direction from each other. So it’s a bit like that exercise when you rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time. Getting used to the game’s controls and seeing the solutions unfold is the rewarding part, as well as being the bread and butter of its mechanics.
The main aim is for you to get the characters to just to walk through each stage until they reach the exit. Simple yes? Well, no. Because there are a huge number of obstacles in your way. These range from trap-like pits, or the dead hands of monsters rising from the ground. Other times you will find things firing at you, ghosts appearing and disappearing or stone guardians following your every move. There is a nice gradient in the difficulty level that slowly gets you in the mood and allows you to find a gentle way of playing through things, with a nice achievement awarded for the completion of each level. By the time you reach the conclusion of Fearful Symmetry it does get very hard – but not in an impossible way – so you will have to polish your brain up and get the thinking cap out from the bottom of the cupboard.
In the main game you will find that there are twenty levels, taking you through forests and tombs. After that you can play the bonus levels which are pretty tough, but unlock new hero characters you can play with that have special powers in tackling the levels again. There are then even more levels to play with when those characters have been unlocked, so there is most certainly a fair amount to do here. But is it actually any good?
Well, control wise and it’s a simple game, but what it does do, it does brilliantly. The actual USP of the two worlds running at the same time is a great device and never gets old, even when you are left pulling your hair out and running up the wall in frustration. But like all good puzzlers you want to carry on through the toughest times and try to work things out, even when you are sitting in bed at night trying to understand the best route through each level.
If you don’t like a brain teaser then there is not much here for you to enjoy, because there is only a small hint of a story – but that’s not the main focus or its strong point. The action is slow and methodical, whilst the gameplay itself is probably more suited to the handheld experience.
Visually the style of Fearful Symmetry would be much more suited to something along the lines of a Gameboy Advance then a powerful new Xbox One X, but that for some will be part of the charm. It is full of pixels and block art, with some nice little retro touches, and crisp, bright colours for the purists among you. The soundtrack though is pretty epic and hints of plenty of adventure.
Overall and there is a decent little game found within Fearful Symmetry & the Cursed Prince. It has a brilliant concept, a nice retro design and some decent puzzling gameplay. If you like a brain twister and are no stranger to complicated mind bending thoughts then you can’t go wrong by giving this a go. I do think the price is good, but feel that if it came in just a little bit lower, then I could rate it even higher.
But for now you could do worse than check out Fearful Symmetry – just make sure you practice rubbing your belly and patting your head, because that training will be a lifesaver.