Humble Mumble – Youropa

Every month, Humble Store offer up their Humble Choice, a selection of 12 games that you can choice a number of, depending on your subscription.  I’ll be giving you a first impressions of many of these across the month.  First up is from November’s Choice and is Youropa.

The fun part of the curated selection that Humble Choice gives you, is the opportunity to explore titles that you otherwise may well have never heard of before, finding interesting takes and experiences being created by smaller developers.  Youropa is one such game, a game that I had not encountered in other stores or seen discussed at all on gaming sites.  A simple game, but one that is vibrant and full of energy.

Paris is crumbling.  Chunks of the famous city of love are floating about in the sky after some explosion has happened around the Eiffel Tower.  One of these chunks happens to have a squishy humanoid type figure dangling from a tree, attached by a length of rope tied to his leg.  Why he is like that or what has actually happened to the city doesn’t appear to be of much importance or interest to the game, as you soon find yourself running along and around these chunks of the city, solving puzzles in order to open blue doors to the next chunk on your journey to… somewhere.  Perhaps things come clearer beyond the first couple of hours, but plot and sense of purpose are not big on the agenda for Youropa.

Instead, the game wants to spend its time playing around with the odd gravity wackiness that has occurred through the city.  Running along the ground, you follow the curves of the path, remaining firmly stuck to the ground, wall or ceiling.  As soon as you step over an edge, it instantly reverts to up being up and down being down, as you go splatting on the ground or falling off the map.  This leads to you needing to figure out the correct way to navigate these levels in order to reach the doorway to the next section, getting head and feet around the gravity defying path you have to take.

Along the way, you will encounter rooms with a few puzzles required to be completed in order to activate a machine that will give you access to a new ability.  In Metroidvania style, these abilities will open up new paths to previously inaccessible areas.  The powers, so far, have been pretty straightforward.  First up was an ability to zoom out a view the world at different angles, allowing you to find secrets and solutions to puzzles.  For example, you might have some floor panels that light up when you activate them, with the solution to the correct pattern of lights being shown in an area that you might not be able to reach by foot, but will be able to see when zoomed out.  The other abilities unlocked have been simply to be able to interact with objects, either by picking them up or activating a switch, and one that lets you kick objects, leading to puzzles involving France’s favourite pastime of booting a stuffed pig’s bladder into a net.

Puzzle games often rely on those eureka moments that their simple component parts build up to.  Youropa, at least in its early sections, perhaps does not offer too many of those.  The basic concede is a reasonably good one, albeit perhaps not the most original, but it doesn’t show many signs of leading to many smart novel twists on the formula.  Entering a new area, it is often quite obvious what you need to do to proceed and if it isn’t too instant, it normally becomes quite apparent when you activate the ability to get a bird’s eye view of the area.  There are hidden cassette tapes dotted around the place to collect, which add an extra challenge, but these are reasonably easy to get, with the hardest of them normally turning out to be blocked due to the lack of an ability.  The difficulty level would perhaps work quite well with kids though and I could see pre-teens or early teens being able to get quite a lot out of the ideas here and the puzzles are pitched at that kind of level.  Even as an adult, it is hard not to get a bit of a buzz when you walk along a path up a wall, seeing your character and your whole view flip along with it.

The game also has to be praised for its really delightful aesthetic.  There is a really fun, punk feel to the whole proceedings, from the squishy person figure you control to the graffiti tagged concrete slaps that make up the levels.  This style carries over to one the must enjoyable character creators that you can experience.  Early on, you encounter a spot that will let you spray paint your character.  There are also numerous shapes you can spray on, to give the character ears, eyes, mouth, shapes, etc.  There is a surprising amount of variety on offer and I could see people spending dozens of minutes just playing around with this to get a character that looks just the way they want it to.  There is no need for added cosmetic accessories to chuck onto your figure either, instead relying solely on the creativity of the player to give their playable character the personality they want.  Again, it is the kind of thing that kids would no doubt absolutely love to do.

The title of Youropa, really tells you all you need to know about this game.  A fun playful experience that is ultimately rather meaningless.  There doesn’t appear to be much here to really blow your mind, but at the same time there are some fun ideas contained within.  For a few pounds, it definitely offers a fun way to while away some hours with.  The colourful version of Paris that it offers is nice to spend time in and I can recommend it to anyone looking for something to entertain a kid with.  Spraying their character alone is likely to give them entertainment value, before they even get to thinking their way through the puzzles on offer.

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