Oh to be a microscopic form of life. Swimming about, interacting with all manner of organisms. Your world, while monumental in scope to you, may as well rest on the head of a pin to humanity. It’s a strange place; positively alien. Odd shapes and colours form the bulk of your environment. Unfamiliar sights defying description and treacherous paths to reach the unreachable. A recipe for a great game.
I Can’t Stop Looking
I am in love with Ynglet’s art style. The levels, creatures and puzzles are all hand drawn. Its design is beautifully abstract; like doodles come to life. Little organisms float around as you explore. Explosions of colour flash before you as you swim about. Everything is reactive and alive. As you slip in and out of bubbles or interact with its many modes of transportation, the world’s reactions are like a firework display. It’s a treat to witness, and proved to be somewhat therapeutic to me. The world is strange, but peaceful, opening up to you as you explore.
You play as an oddly adorable little organism with a bunch of tendrils trailing behind it, something akin to a jellyfish or octopus. Ynglet starts off with a wordless cinematic in which a comet or asteroid-like flying object crashes into your home. Separating you and your comrades from one another. The brave creature that you are, you go off in search of your lost friends. You fearlessly explore an alien world, rearranged from the way you once knew it.
A Platformer, With No Platforming
Ynglet is a side-scrolling platformer that has very little in the way of platforms. Instead of the traditional hopping from one platform to another, it takes things in another direction. It has you move between bubbles that act as a safe haven. Though I couldn’t decide if these resting spots were bubbles or cells.
As soon as you swim outside of these bubbles, you find yourself coming to terms with a little something called gravity. You drop like a rock from the playing field, only to bounce back into the last bubble or cell you rested at. Therefore traversal means swimming from haven to haven, aiming for the ideal trajectory to assure safe travels.
The means of travel don’t just end at these bubbles though. There are a number of clever ways to get around, littered throughout the game. From walls and platforms you bounce off of, to bubbles that eject you should you overstay your welcome. There are even pseudo-railway lines that zip you across the map at breakneck speed. All of these form ways in which you make your way through an abstract and alien world.
While swimming, bouncing and zooming all offer fun methods of movement. You’ve got another trick up your sleeve as an octo-jellyfish. You can teleport! Well, maybe not exactly teleport, but something that sure looks a lot like it. You quickly jump forward at the push of a direction key and press of a button, to close the gap between two bubbles. This dash ability interacts with the world in beautiful ways, creating a pulse which causes colours to bleed out from every surface, and lines to warp for a bit. This ability also has its use with another set of walls and platforms which you can dash into and bounce off of at an angle. Some bubbles decay from its use, and others are affected by it like a switch, phasing in and out of existence with every dash.
Music That Reacts To You
Ynglet has an interesting soundtrack to it to say the least. It comes across like experimental music, which really compliments the abstract art style well. Percussive ticks and pings hitting at all manner of odd time signatures. But it does something else very interesting. Remember those explosions of colour and shapes that litter the campaign as you swim about and explore your environment? The music here operates in much the same way. When you’re still, the music slows to a crawl, simple ambient notes play out to express the way you find yourself in that moment. Dormant.
As soon as you move, It picks up pace and complexity offering a fitting tempo to your race to find your friends. The music adapts to whatever environmental objects you interact with as well, like the crescendo of sound that accompanies you on those railway lines. This makes for a soundtrack that is not only reactive, but dynamic, resulting in a unique body of music.
Is That a Metaphor I see?
Now Ynglet doesn’t claim to be some elaborate metaphor for cells or microscopic forms of life and Human modes of transport and infrastructure. However, I cannot help but feel the connections. I see the bubbles you travel between as cells. And I see those pseudo-railway lines as something similar to our veins and arteries allowing for the rapid spread of blood cells and organisms alike. Even the hub world that allows you to travel between levels looks like an aerial view of a town.
Ynglet is a pleasant slice of platformless platforming that I can easily recommend to anyone. It’s controls are simple, It’s minimalist art style is beautiful and its reactive music was a pleasure to experience. Although it may be a bit on the short side, Ynglet is a great time all the way through.