GamingReview: Backworlds

Review: Backworlds

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Backworlds is an oddly charming puzzle platformer game which finally came to the Nintendo Switch after nine years of development. With enough puzzles to keep you thinking for hours, any fans of an intricate puzzle platform game will adore this one. Standing out against other games with it’s unique art style, players are challenged to utilise new skills in order to progress. Backworlds has features even a veteren of puzzle platformers isn’t used to, which makes it such a fun and engaging game. 

Clunky controls but perfect puzzles

Despite the game being developed for nine years, the controls on Switch are not as smooth as you would expect. Backworlds was originally set to release exclusively on PC, which would explain some of the controls. The transfer to switch definitely takes a few moments to understand. Rather than using the joystick to control your character, you’re told to use the d pad which seems uncomfortable when jumping around maps. It’s definitely something you get used to after a few puzzles but to start it seems out of place. Directional controls were definitely the main issue, and everything else seemed to be fine. 

The gameplay follows a pretty simple concept too. You complete puzzles in order to catch ink spills, and enough of those unlocks a door to somewhere. Eventually, these turn into boss encounters. You’re also equipped with a handy map in case you get lost (which I definitely did a few times). This map shows where the rest of the ink spills are, and also allows you to fast travel should you need to. This element isn’t one frequently used in puzzle platformers, but it’s definitely one highly praised in Backworlds. 

Aesthetically incredible

The game is visually stunning. Backgrounds are extremely detailed and the papercraft-esque hand drawn style sets it aside from any other. When using the drawing tool to unlock other dimensions, there are hidden elements and details you definitely wouldn’t expect. Trees are rustled with winds, and everything comes together to produce this wonderful little package. Your character is fully animated as well, tail swishing around, and head popping off to help solve puzzles. It’s extremely entertaining. With accompanying music to mirror environmental changes, Backworlds is a neatly tied up bundle of fun. For the most part, it runs extremely smoothly as well. The other downside is on occasion loading screens cause levels to freeze for a few seconds. 

The main gimmick for this game is the interdimensional drawing tool you have to use to complete levels. All puzzles expect you to use this in some shape or form. Switching between the real world and the reverse opens up an entire new world (quite literally) of opportunity. According to different levels, this tool also comes with different and exciting powers. From disobeying gravity to swimming through air, you hardly feel bored. Gameplay is kept completely fresh by this tool since you never really know what to expect, or what is going to happen next. It’s exciting, and hardly monotonous.This can’t be said for the occasional boss battle though. Nothing really separates them and there isn’t really much of a challenge. They seem out of place and repetitive. They’re simple and kind of boring, which is a shame since Backworlds is so wonderful without them. 

Final thoughts

As a whole, it’s clear that the nine years of development were worth it. Backworlds is an extremely enjoyable puzzle platformer which is completely fresh and unique. With so many elements, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something simple yet challenging to enjoy.

SUMMARY

Backworlds is a multi-dimensional puzzle platform game in which you explore by painting. Solve environmental conundrums by using each world's physical properties!
+ Unique take on puzzle platformers
+ Beautiful art style and soundtrack
+ Levels do not repeat themselves
- Boss battles are monotonous and unreasonable
- Controls haven't transferred to switch very smoothly

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch but also available on Steam.
Kara Phillips
Hi I'm Kara and I am forever spending my days diving into realities far from my own.

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