“VVVVVV” the best one hour game you’ll pay 5 bucks for this week  

You can find “VVVVVV” on Steam here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/70300/

Maybe you have been to http://www.kongregate.com/ or another free web game portal. There are two main problems that an average consumer has with these web based games and their host sites.

One, everything lacks polish. With literally thousands of games available for free, quality gets pretty diluted. Not everyone has the backing to make a “Dikembe Mutombo Saves the World” (http://kbhgames.com/old-spice-dikembe-mutombos-4-12-weeks-to-save-the-world/)

Two, there is no satisfying power of purchase! Without the good feeling that exchanging tangible goods for an intangible experience provides how are we supposed signify to ourselves and to the world that we have committed to a game?

Both of these problems are solved with “VVVVVV” a game that has a simple hook, limited run-time, and modest cost.

In “VVVVVV” you play as a little guy. His names starts with a ‘V’ and he sets out to find other little guys whose names start with ‘V’. The story, told in easily skippable small text blurbs, has all the charm that any low budget game would be expected to have. That is if you think that three facial expression sprites and solid color blob like stick figures are charming. I did.

In terms of gameplay “VVVVVV” is closer to its web-game cousins than to other platformer indie darlings such as “Super Meat Boy” or “FEZ” which have a sense of scale and production value orders of magnitude greater than what you can find here. While frugal, the art design never feels cheap. While stylized visuals probably helped the developers’ meager purse, it never hurts gameplay. Visually distinct neon areas with flashing patterns help give each platforming space an identity.

I enjoy ambitious games and developers that try to push the variety and possibility of games in an inherently limited space like the browser (See: http://jmtb02.com/). The reality is that often polish and ambition are pitted up against one another. More features unfortunately mean more rough edges. Unlike big studios, smaller teams of one or two are without the ability to throw bags of currency and hours of human suffering at problems. Web games at their best tend to be games that drill down to a core mechanic and make it sing.

“VVVVVV” aims at a refined experience using only the arrow keys or the left and right arrow keys and the “V” key. The simple mechanic of flipping gravity and moving horizontally is all there is to this game. You can only flip gravity once before navigating to a safe platform where you can flip gravity again. The game squeezes every last drop of play out of this and clocks in between one and two hours.

The thing about “VVVVVV” is that surface level quality hangs just above top tier platforming games on sites like Kongregate (see the “robot wants” series: http://www.kongregate.com/games/Hamumu). While competing with free games might seem counter productive, this might be its greatest strength, that you can pay for it. In the bizarre deluge of web games, something like “VVVVVV” could get lost. Anyone who is hunting for a good free game to play online knows that it takes an average of two duds before landing on something passable and rarer still to find something succinct and economical.

In a world where it can be impossible to find good one hour games, “VVVVVV” stands as one of the more competent choices for anyone looking to skip the online legwork for just five dollars.

Last note, with many optional collectibles to be found through off the beaten path platforming challenges “VVVVVV” promises an after life for people who want to take the plunge past casual land and into the ranks of the 100%-ers.

Also available on iOS, Android, OUYA.

 
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