Review – Archibald’s Adventures
Developer: Rake in Grass
Publisher: Rake in Grass
Release Date: July 20th 2010 | July 14th 2010
Price: $3.99 | £2.49 | €2.99
Rating: Everyone | PEGI 3
What I liked:
- Tons of levels
- Some clever puzzles
- New gadgets/abilities spice up gameplay
What I disliked:
- Rarely difficult
- Lacks an alluring aspect
- Tough to play for long periods of time
Archibald’s Adventures is a game that’s been released on several platforms, the most recent of which is the Playstation Network. It comes to the PSN as a Mini, playable on both your PS3 and PSP systems. In short, the game is a platform puzzler by Czech Republic-based independent developer Rake In Grass. You play as Archie, a young kid on a skateboard whose quest to pull off the raddest trick in his skateboarding group of friends lands him in an underground secret laboratory. In a series of increasingly difficult levels, you must guide Archie out of the crazy professor’s lab and back to his friends on the surface.
The game includes 12 chapters, all but the last of which containing 16 levels (14 regular and 2 bonus per chapter). All in all, there are 191 levels to beat. That’s a lot. Each level takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to complete, with some of the later levels taking a bit more time due to more intricate puzzlery (don’t tell me that isn’t a word, spellcheck). To follow the numbers train of thought, Archibald’s Adventures packs at least 16 hours of gameplay. That’s a whole lot of gameplay for a Minis title, but what type of gameplay is it?
The trailer at the top of the review will give you some pretty clear evidence of what the gameplay is like. As Archie, you ride on your skateboard (or in a maintenance pod and later a jetpack) from the start of the level to its finish. The puzzling comes into play in concocting a way to actually get to the exit. The game holds your hand for the first few levels, setting out different tutorials to explain Archie’s abilities. Soon enough you gain the ability to remotely control a pink bubble. The bubble can flip switches, pick up and move boxes, etc. It’s a cool way to spice up the gameplay and makes for some interesting distal puzzle solving. A bit later, Archie begins driving a maintenance pod. In the pod, you’re able to attach to metallic surfaces. This allows for Archie to move up and down some walls and across some ceilings. If you’ve ever played a puzzle game like this before, you know that these abilities will soon need to be used together in different ways in order to reach the exit. It’s fun, but there are some drawbacks.
In the pod, you can break certain crates or detonate bombs. All you have to do is dash into the crate to break it. To dash, you move in one direction for about 3 spaces. The problem here is that to climb a crate, you run into it at a slower speed. Long story short, you will probably end up smashing some crates, causing you to restart the level. It takes some time to become more conscious of what speed you’re traveling at (Note: Literally seconds after writing this note down, I smashed a crate near the end of a puzzle and had to restart it. Slightly frustrating).
While there are a ton of levels and the different vehicles make the gameplay varied, there’s still something to be desired here. There is no penalty for dying beyond getting transported back to the most recent checkpoint and trying again. Some sense of urgency or added incentives (collectibles, time trials, different game modes…) would really help to make this a better game. With only one way to play, the game relies on the strength of its level design and puzzles. They’re both pretty good, don’t get me wrong, but I have a tough time playing this game for more than 3 consecutive levels. After that, either my eyelids start drooping or I get the itch to dodge some coconuts or play something else. I recommend putting it on your PSP and playing it in short spurts. That’s what I did after the first 3 chapters, and it’s been working out pretty well. The music is bumpin, by the way. Definitely a plus.