Review: 2D puzzle platformer THE ADVENTURES OF SHUGGY forces you to think both on and off your cute little feet as you tackle a series of puzzle rooms. Read on to see why it’s worth your time – and that of your past self…
In The Adventures of Shuggy, you play the eponymous Shuggy, a cute-as-buttons little vampire who inherits a Scottish mansion from a deceased relative and – who cares? Yes, there is a wafer-thin story, which is communicated in intermittent comic book panels, but it doesn’t really matter. There’s a bunch of puzzle rooms, you clear them and fun is had.
There’s two ways puzzle games can go: One gives you a few base abilities and then complicates them with challenges that exist in the game world (as with Portal 2, which was first going to have a Paint Gun before the gels were relegated to dispensers); the other keeps adding abilities as you progress.
The Adventures of Shuggy takes the former route, but with a twist. There is a single action key which does something different in each puzzle room. In one, it may rotate the entire room 45 degrees in the direction you’re looking. In another, it may switch control between multiple incarnations of Shuggy. In yet another, it allows you to pick up certain objects.
The objective is always to collect all the gems, with each cleared room opening new ones. You have access to Steam leaderboards where the fastest times are logged for bragging rights, and it’s always fun to return to earlier rooms to see if you can clear them more efficiently and shave a couple of seconds off your time.
Don’t touch your (past) self
Each room manages to either introduce a new mechanic or turn an existing one on its head (sometimes literally). The best one has a timer that creates a new Shuggy every 20 seconds, which will repeat the actions you performed in those 20 seconds. Contact with a past Shuggy results in death, because the same matter can’t occupy the same space (a law of physics which Timecop came up with).
Each past Shuggy cleverly comes with a tracer that anticipates the path they’ll take, allowing you to easily avoid them. I say “easily”, because at first you need only one extra Shuggy to keep a door open. But by the later levels, you can be juggling five or six of them in an effort to get to that last gem. If you get those on the first go, call me. I want your brain.
This time mechanic would’ve made a very entertaining game in its own right, but here it’s just one of many that all add up to a fun and rewarding puzzler. You’ll be swinging on ropes, growing into larger and smaller versions of yourself, and spooking adorable little Shmus into freeing gems for you (it makes sense in context – trust me). And more often than not, there’ll be all kinds of nasties (like spiders and smashy spike balls) to avoid while doing so. It never feels overwhelming or frustrating, though, which is a rare feat for games like this.
The Adventures of Shuggy offers great variety while never feeling like it’s all over the place. Its crisp, 2D presentation and endearing sound effects (especially when you make Shuggy jump) all contribute to a quality game that’s seriously worth your time.
The Adventures of Shuggy, from Smudged Cat Games, is out now for Xbox 360 and PC (reviewed).