Platform: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Atrax Games
Release date: May 7th 2015
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I want to start by saying I’m not a huge fan of puzzle games, nor am I very good at them; But there is something alluring about Sym that just screamed at me. The monochromatic puzzle platform from Atrax Games is very much a thinking man’s game, though the underlying tones of the social anxiety makes it very unique.
The plot is, per the Steam page, “explores social anxiety disorder”; in practice, this means that there’s text all over the place describing the struggles of the protagonist Josh in dealing with other people while you make your way through the puzzles. This actually comes into play in the gameplay as well – you’re switching from white to black to hide from others, for instance, and from black to white when it becomes necessary to do so in order to progress. Even the level design incorporates this theme, with eye-shaped platforms representing others’ gaze.
Sym is all about switching between light and dark planes in order to progress through each level. When you come across a foe that’s going to have you for lunch or an obstacle you just can’t cross, the answer usually involves switching to the other “side” of the level. There are also switches and such that affect either side of the level that you’ll have to run around and hit in true puzzle-platformer fashion. The monochrome graphics are certainly interesting, though we have seen a lot of indies do this in recent memory, maybe the most well known being Limbo. What Sym does differently here is have a jagged effect on the graphics; which suggests that the art is hand-drawn.
If you’re hurting for an indie puzzle platformer, Sym isn’t a terrible choice. I’d be amazed that you were hurting for one, since indies love making puzzle platformers and crank them out at a rate of several per minute. Sym’s interesting graphical style and unique plot help it stand out in this extremely overcrowded genre, even if the gameplay isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.
What Rocks! :)
- Interesting graphic style.
- Subtle beauty.
- Unique underlying message.
What Sucks :(
- Nothing new in the overcrowded market.
- Loose gameplay and controls.
- The difficulty creates a frustrating experience and stifles the impact of its message.
If you’re in a group that can sit on a good brainteaser of a puzzler together, this is a good game to try; with a strong message as well.
A code for the game was kindly supplied by the developer for the purpose of creating this review