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Replay: VHS is not dead Review

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Replay: VHS is not dead is a refreshing, mechanically complex platforming puzzle game. It embraces VHS, and all the quirks and movies that came from it. The game utilises the quick convenience of being able to rewind your VHS; allowing for a lot of interesting and varied challenges and it does this within a setting that will be sure to invoke some form of nostalgia.

Although not the main draw of the game, the setting and plot for this puzzle platformer seems to be executed pretty well. Even though the story may seem cheesy at first, I believe that it fits in well with the overall retro feel and setting of the game, adding to the overall experience. The game begins with the main protagonist heading off to his local video store in the hope of snagging himself some VHS movies to watch. After purchasing the films he wants from the store, and receiving a mysterious remote controller which he is told nothing about, he heads home. On his way back, by some freak of nature, he suddenly gets struck by lightning. Of course, being struck by lightning in any game, book or film is never a good sign, and often results in strange things happening – something which is most definitely the case here. After he gets home from the store, he attempts to watch the movies before realising that they have been fried. Angry and frustrated, he lets it all out on the TV with the remote he was given. This results in him suddenly being transported into the world of the movies he has just purchased. The game then begins from here, taking you through a number of visually interesting levels that include a pirate ship, space ship, haunted house, and a jungle – all of which seem reminiscent of films such as Star Trek and Friday the 13th.

vhs not dead pic 1

The mechanics of the game can seem daunting at first glance. However, I soon became familiar with them after attempting the first couple of levels. The levels provide helpful hints and tips to make sure that you aren’t left stranded, not knowing what to do, quickly taking the challenge away from mastering the mechanics and putting the emphasis onto the great puzzle design that the game has to offer. The game allows you to control up to a maximum of three characters in any one level. Though they all look different depending on what level you are in, they all seem to share the same three abilities; moving, jumping, and pushing objects. These mechanics, however, are all fairly standard for a platformer of this type. The main draw of the game is its interesting rewind mechanic which is much the same as what is seen in games such as Super Time Force and Braid. Using this skill, you must move each character individually to their designated checkpoint. Once each has arrived in position, after negotiating a vast number of obstacles, the level is complete.

Each of the four areas in the game are split into 15 individual levels. While the scenery of the levels does begin to feel repetitive after a few levels, each stage still felt as if it gave me just that little bit more to think about, which is what a great puzzle platformer should do. The game slowly introduces new obstacles to negotiate, with the likes of lasers that can be reflected to hit switches, droids that move after a certain amount of time, and anti-gravitational fields all present. However, the most exciting part of the game are the mind bending bosses that appear at the end of each area. These boss stages bring together everything that you have learnt in the previous stages into one level to create an exciting and fun final stage. They give something to look forward to at the end of each area, making some of the tougher levels just a bit more bearable, while also providing meaningful checkpoints to reach as you progress through the game.

vhs pic 2

VHS is not dead also includes a fair amount of unlockable keys and medals for you to find and win. The keys, which could be found while playing through each stage allow access to secret levels which provide an extra challenge for those who want it. The medals on the other hand are grabbed by completing the levels under par time. These two things give a reason to go back and play through the stages again after the game is completed, extending its time and enjoyment.

The graphics aren’t anything too impressive, however, I believe that the pixel based art style fits in well with the theme that the developers were going for and makes the game feel even more nostalgic than it would have been if the art style was to look new and shiny. The animations and models of the characters are all done very well and manage to stand out as one of the better looking parts of the game.

Replay: VHS is not dead was a delight to play from beginning to end, and although I am not quite old enough to fully appreciate the nostalgia behind the VHS premise of the game, I still appreciated what it tried to do, something which it pretty much succeeded in too. If you’re a puzzle platforming enthusiast, I believe that you will thoroughly enjoy this game and the challenges it presents to you.

TXH
TXH
TXH loves nothing more than kicking back at the end of the day, controller in hand, shooting the hell out of strangers via Xbox Live.

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8 years ago

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