...a few design missteps brought down what really could be an excellent title.
Many times it seems as if multiplayer is an afterthought when designing a game. You get that feeling that it was just thrown in there to add something on a fact sheet or back of a box. However there are a few occasions when multiplayer is the main focus of a game. Ibb and Obb, a new PS3 title releasing on the PlayStation Network this week, is one of those games.
Coming from Dutch developer Sparpweed, Ibb and Obb is a 2D puzzle platformer. I know, before you go, is that all indie developers make… there is a quite interesting twist in this one. Each level is split into 2 different parts by a horizon line and when you swap between these areas the gravity will shift. As you can probably guess, many of the games puzzles are built upon this principle. The vast majority of your time in each level will have you and a partner trying to figure out what series of moves you will need to execute to get enough momentum or just enough height to land on a platform. This teamwork is the core of the game and also applies to the enemies. You will have to attack them from one zone and collect the items they drop from the other. Your score for each stage is based on how many of these gems you collect.
I mention you and a partner because while the game does in fact have a single player mode, I found it to be pretty much unplayable. Each of the two characters, ibb and obb, are placed on a thumb-stick. While this doesn’t sound that hard, having to coordinate each of these little guys with the precision needed for many of the puzzles will take some serious skill. Anyone who can get the trophy for beating the game in single player has my respect. The game does offer both local and online co-op and I spent all of my time for this review using the online setting. I figured the majority of people playing the game probably one time or another will be using this mode. Just take note that none of the issues I have with lag are there when playing locally with your friend.
The game’s controls feel a tad bit too floaty for my liking. When playing online this is only made worse do to the latency of your internet connection. In the embedded video below you can see quite a few times when trying to cooperate with a friend, jumps are missed or the player just seems to not respond the way you would want them to. When the online does work, the game’s challenge puzzles give that eureka sensation when solving them, but when the lag rears its ugly head… things can get frustrating real fast.
That is not the biggest issue that I have however. One thing that makes doing everything correctly way harder than it should be is knowing where you are when you go off screen. There is no indication of where you are going to land and you really need that when solving any puzzle that has you hitting “jump pads”. These pad will launch a character on the opposite side up into the air, and are the key in many of the games tougher puzzles. Not knowing where you are going to end up, makes you have to repeat these things over and over again. The joy of any puzzle should be solving it. But something like this takes that joy away when you are trying for the 5th time to do something you know is the answer.
I don’t mean to make it sound like everything is bad though. I do in fact think it is one of the better puzzle platformers I have played. Many of the game’s secret levels have some of the most devious puzzles I have ever solved. I was told that the mechanics in these stages were deemed too hard for the main game, so really these hidden levels are like an expert course in ibb and obb. Many of them are just one screen long, so you will have everything you need to solve them right in front of you. Another thing that I really enjoyed was the game’s soundtrack. The soothing sounds seemed to perfectly fit each level and change to fit the mood. I wish I could recommend playing with headphones on, but you will really need to be in constant communication with a friend if you want to progress.
So in the end, ibb and obb while doing something different, just isn’t all there. With some really fun brain-bending puzzles, it is perfect for anyone who has someone to play with that enjoys a good challenge. I am just a little sad that some lag and a few design missteps brought down what really could be an excellent title.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
Chris K's Score:
What I Like:
What I Dislike:
Release Date:August 2013
Players:1-2 (Local), 1-2 (Online)