I am not going to lie, before I got my copy of ScaryGirl I had never even heard of this IP. The unique art-style and premise of the game are what interested me. On the outside, it may look like your standard artsy platformer, but once you invest yourself into the universe, it is actually quite interesting. Fans of the series get an extremely competent interpretation of the universe, while the rest of us get a damn fine action/platformer. This is a win/win situation for everyone.
As I mentioned, I wasn’t familiar with the ScaryGirl franchise, so when a giant octopus emerged to tell me to investigate why the leaves were falling, I just sort of raised my brow in confusion. Yes, the story of ScaryGirl is eccentric, to put it lightly, but the developers have captured it perfectly. The story actually resides outside the graphic novels and upcoming movie, so fans do have some original content to enjoy. The game is broken down into seven worlds; each with three levels and mixed up with interesting boss fights that throw diversity into the mix.
At its core, ScaryGirl is an action/platformer. The controls are loose, making it more focused on taking down enemies than worrying about the precision of tedious jumps. ScaryGirl has a tentacle arm that she uses for attacks, utilizing two buttons for light and heavy strikes. You can also purchase upgrades that change the damage and attack speeds. The problem with combat comes from the loose controls. I often found myself taking damage because I would slide into enemies, or they would appear out of the background without warning. While annoying, it never broke my enjoyment or experience.
Every level features new enemies and, of course, plenty of things to collect/do. The game keeps track of stats for each area, and in order to ’perfect’ a level, you have to complete them all. These are your typical objectives such as beating it without dying and collecting all the gems. You can go back to any level at any time to try and achieve perfect status, which of course comes with an Achievement/Trophy to brag about. The game is lengthy on its own, but adding in this collection aspect and, of course, leaderboards fleshes it out and makes replaying fun. Levels are short enough not to make it too much of a chore, and most of them are well-designed and fun to traverse.
Speaking of which, the game itself harkens back to classic 2 1/2D platformers like Klonoa and the criminally underrated Pandemonium series. ScaryGirl is constantly moving along a set path with the ability to take some alternate routes here and there. The one thing I noticed is that the developers did a great job creating a constant sense of moving up. I make note of it because that is exactly what you are doing in the narrative. It was a subtle thing, but one that really stuck out to me in my play through.
The game does feature offline co-op, which is actually pretty cool. You can have a friend drop in at any point in the game as Bunniguru, and amazingly, he is not just a clone of ScaryGirl. Instead, you have access to some awesome kung-fu moves that make him more dynamic. It also makes boss fights much easier, as well as making the game more fun to blast through. He cannot, however, grapple items like his counterpart.
I mentioned the unique art style, but you really don’t appreciate it until you see it for yourself. Enemy designs are very cool, and every level has its own concept and feel. I loved the boss designs, and the colors jump out of the screen. I really like the look of the game. Sound is a little more muted with some goofy voices and sound effects, though the narrator is really well done. The music is also well suited to the atmosphere.
ScaryGirl is a solid action/platformer that will appeal to both fans of the series, as well as fans of the genre in general. The unique art style and characters give the game personality and the level design and action are engaging. I really enjoyed my time with TikGames’ latest effort and fans of the series are definitely in for a treat. The game is solid and will deliver a nice dose of action/platforming for anyone willing to give it a chance.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.