Imagine for a second that graffiti on the walls of a building in the back alley was more than just graffiti, but rather a living breathing world full of colorful characters, nasty monsters, and puzzling environments. That is essentially what Sideway: New York is.
You play as Nox, a young graffiti artist trying to rescue a missing girl named Cass from an evil villain named Spray. Spray uses his powers to pull Nox into his world, the world that is all graffiti on the sides of buildings. Now, Nox will have to traverse the walls of New York City, defeating graffiti enemies and taking down Spray’s lieutenants in order to get Cass back.
The game is a 2D platformer with a big twist. Since you are technically a drawing on the wall of a building, when you cross a corner or reach a turning point of the building, sometimes the perspective will change. The camera is always moving in Sideway. If you jump to the roof of the building, you are now on the surface of the roof. The gravity will change as well depending on how you entered the new area. This allows for some unique puzzles and tricky platforming maneuvers.
Nox can be upgraded with new attacks, moves, and boosts to the health meter. Most of these can be found by exploring the environments. There’s always some secret area that Nox can find with a little patience. Each level is scored based on how well you do, how many spray cans you pick up, and how many enemies you take down. This allows for multiple playthroughs to get the best score.
The game offers up 2-player local co-op during any level, at any time. Its fun having a 2nd player with you, but the game lends itself better to the faster pace that only single player can offer. Plus, since the perspective is always changing, the 2nd player can get lost pretty easily.
The game is not particularly difficult, but you will run into some very frustrating platforming sections that take some patience to complete. Since the game’s controls are more on the floaty side, you’ll find that the later levels that require you to have precise jumping, and make use of all of Nox’s moves, will grow tiresome. Some of the boss fights will become that way as well, mainly because you will have to figure out how to defeat most of them with little guidance. The game will finally give you a hint after about 5 deaths, but even a small sign in the background would have helped.
Some of the puzzles are also a bit of a problem. Twice while playing through the game, I experienced parts where I had boxed myself in during a puzzle. You can start back from your last checkpoint, but the game doesn’t reload the level, so when I respawned at my last checkpoint, I was still boxed in because the boxes were still in the same place where I had left them. I had to completely restart the entire level, losing about 10 minutes of play time in the process.
The biggest, and possibly the most frustrating, part of this game is not the game play at all, but the music. The game has a decent hip-hop sound track that was professionally created by some Skullcandy headset artist. That’s all well and good, and the tracks are not bad. What makes them bad is that there are only about 5 songs in the game, and in a single level they loop two songs over and over again. Some levels will take a while to complete, so you’re stuck listening to the same two songs for 15 minutes. It will drive you insane.
I may sound a little harsh on the game, but Sideway: New York is not bad by any stretch. It does have some annoying parts, but the art style and constantly changing perspective is something you don’t see every day. For the most part, the game is enjoyable. There were a few questionable design choices, and the game is not that long. You can probably finish it in around 4 hours. Still, for $10, you can find some fun out of the game. Just make sure to mute the game and put on your own playlist.
Review copy provided by publisher.