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Airhead Review

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When you’re learning creative writing or looking to move into screenwriting, a lot of teaching starts with the premise ‘write about what you know’. Or always find the truth in what your narrative sets out to achieve. This might work for a lot of dramas where sometimes there are deep observations about societal problems and a character’s redemption journey from the bottom to the top.

But what about someone who is missing their head, able to inflate it with oxygen when they find it? Well, I don’t think anyone can create that from real experience. But Airhead manages to tell a tale of wonder and mystery, and it’s got a whole load of heart mixed in. 

airhead review 1
Grab that Airhead

The story of Airhead is there for you to work out for yourself, played out with no text or massive cutscenes to help you understand the character or their place in the world. You first play as a headless character, wandering around a strange underground environment full of caverns, water, and creatures. It’s not long before you stumble upon your head, all before taking in a journey in order to find out how you came to be. It’s a visual story and if you like your narratives ambiguous then this could be the one for you. If you’re looking for The Lord of the Rings, then look away now. 

The game works as a platforming metroidvania game. Think Limbo mixed with some Ori and you might get a bit closer to what it is. It is a game about puzzles, environmental platforming, and trying to keep a body and a head alive long enough to get to the end of the game. 

The twist is found in that when you happen across your head in Airhead, you only have a small amount of time to get to a CO2 cylinder – is dotted around the levels – so you can inflate the head and stay alive. These cylinders also act as checkpoints so when you die you go straight back to the last one. That’s appreciated. 

airhead review 2
Body meet Head

There are a lot of physics and environmental puzzles included in Airhead. There’s nothing majorly new and you should know the drill by now: pushing objects, finding switches, or using creatures to help you unlock routes through the world. The head itself can make use of certain different types of cylinders too, like one where it is inflated with something that makes you float up to reach different areas. There is another which makes the head heavy, allowing you to crash through things.  

As you progress through the game you get new upgrades, like a double jump, air dash, and other such delights. But the mechanics always feel fresh and new introductions to how you solve puzzles are always well implemented, fun to work out. It does get very hard at times though and some might find the constant time pressures in Airhead – the head running out of oxygen – frustrating and nerve-wracking. You don’t get handheld at all either, which isn’t a problem after an hour, but in the beginning, that can feel quite daunting. 

The world of Airhead is a wonderful place to explore, and one of the big reasons behind that is the imagination of the developers in creating the place. This world is full of amazing creatures, and you’ll find yourself studying them to help with the puzzles. Then there is the lighting and beauty of the surroundings and how a story is told; that’s a particular treat. When you include the soothing soundtrack, Airhead comes together well, all as you wander around a strange world. 

airhead review 3
A wonderfully weird world

I love games in which a developer’s wildest imagination is let loose. Airhead is a story about a body, and a head that needs to be constantly filled with oxygen. Why? I don’t care, because it just works as a concept. I can’t tell you why… it just does. And it’s all helped along by some interesting gameplay mechanics and new surprises. Perhaps the opening moments of Airhead are a bit bewildering and the latter puzzles are rock hard, but as an overall experience, Airhead is a blast. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Superb concept
  • Wonderful visuals
  • Gameplay mechanics
Cons:
  • Signposting in the early stages
  • Very hard at times
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, HandyGames
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 12 February 2024 | £16.74
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Superb concept</li> <li>Wonderful visuals</li> <li>Gameplay mechanics</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Signposting in the early stages</li> <li>Very hard at times</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, HandyGames</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 12 February 2024 | £16.74</li> </ul>Airhead Review
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