As we head into the next generation of consoles we will be expecting games to have budgets bigger than Marvel movies, with hundreds of coders, thousands of marketers and testers, star-studded casts of actors working motion-caption, and huge open-world landscapes delivering experiences that are the size of European countries. On the complete opposite side of the coin though are those making small indie games – games that are both inventive and brilliant. So with that in mind let’s meet Dan, founder of Noobles Studio and the sole maker of the hugely impressive platformer The Taller I Grow.
The Taller I Grow first came to fruition a few years ago, with the help and encouragement of the developer’s Computer Studies teacher. Created in Unity, it has only been since the outbreak of a global pandemic where he has been able to utilise spare time to release the game onto Xbox One. I hope that makes you feel bad about what you’ve achieved in lockdown. I for one feel ashamed about my contributions to society – cheese eating and endless watching of TikTok videos.
Anyways, The Taller I Grow is a puzzle platformer that has been designed to look like it’s being played on a DOS-running computer from the 1980s. You play a little character called “Bip” who is a box-shaped sprite. From there, you are presented with a level where Bip is placed and it is up to you to help him get to a doorway to escape; a doorway which is usually on the other side of the stage. Standard stuff, eh? Well, yes and no, as what this little sprite can do – other than a small jump – is unique and pretty much the USP of the game… Bip can jump on another box, attach it to himself, and make himself taller. This mechanic can be used to make the character bigger and able to reach hard to get platforms. You can also detach the boxes at any time so they can be placed as stepping stones to higher levels, or used to block moving platforms.
For the simplicity, the gameplay is great and very enjoyable to play through. Each level provides its own unique challenge, with some reversing gravity and making the most of switches. Yet on another there may be triggers that need boxes placed on them, allowing invisible platforms to become solid again. Some levels initially seem impossible but can be tackled in several different ways, and The Taller I Grow happily give text hints when needed. Without those you could well be there for hours trying to work out the best path forward.
The thing about this game compared to other puzzle platformers is that I have never found the game unforgiving, even though the solutions at times prove difficult. It delivers a great balance of originality, playability, and level design, and when you ultimately crack a stage you will be filled with a great sense of achievement. There are two modes with 30 levels, spread across normal and hardcore difficulties. With the normal mode you can play through the game and die and restart as much as you like, with this employed at any time. You will need to use it a lot too, because the decisions you make in moving the blocks might make it impossible to finish a stage. In hardcore mode you are limited in terms of restarts, and it is this which obviously makes the challenge harder.
It all comes with a very clever visual design that puts you into the world of a DOS computer system from the ’80s, allowing for some great context with simple but starkly beautiful visuals. Bip itself is a simple but loveable little character, and the level design works well on the screen. The menu at the beginning of the game is cleverly designed too, whereby you have to click on an EXE. file to load the game and then type in the level number you want to play. And complementing all this are sound effects that have been made using an online generator; it is very evocative of that period of gaming with its futuristic synthwaves.
The Taller I Grow is a game that everyone should have a go at. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this neat, well-designed platform puzzler, and if you’ve got a mind that is capable of handling puzzlers then you should find yourself blasting through this in a couple of hours. If you’ve got a brain like mine then it’s going to take a bit longer. To purchase, it is under a fiver in cash terms, and that makes it perfect for those who are curious enough to give it a punt. The main takeaway I’ve had from playing The Taller I Grow on Xbox One is that whilst it’s great to be excited about the big triple-A giants that are on the way, there is always room to allow the same excitement for games like this – games that are made by people like Dan.