140 (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 03.02.2017

Review for 140 on PC

There's a common misconception that rhythm can't be taught. Either you have it or you don't, which is why it's so nice to see music taking over in video games, especially in the indie scene. Titles like Crypt of the Necrodancer go a long way to proving to gamers they can develop a sense of rhythm they once thought they could not. If games like Sound Shapes are the polite music teacher who uses kindness to teach their students, 140 has its ruler out, ready to smack your hand over the smallest mistake—and it's fantastic.

140 is not a visually endearing game, looking like something that would have pushed the limits of the Commodore 64 back in the day. However, it's once you start bringing the world to life that one realises how much detail there actually is. The background to this malicious city becomes alive with vibrant colours, as you drift through the deadly wasteland.

You play a square. Well, it's a square until you move, then it becomes a ball. When you jump, you become a triangle. It all sounds a bit underwhelming, and in any other context it would be. Fortunately, in the context of this world of hard, rigid shapes, it makes perfect sense. A major issue with simple shape avatars is they don't justify why they look so simple, but here it makes remarkable sense.

The gameplay, the heart of any platformer, is all about completing short segments by grabbing floating orbs, all the while traversing the landscape as it morphs around the beat. Some platforms disappear on the third beat of the measure, while others move every eight beats. It's easy to get a grip on the beats and follow the rhythm, even when the environment is aiming to kill you almost constantly.

Screenshot for 140 on PC

The orbs appear to have a life of their own, appearing and disappearing with the beat, or running away from you. Despite its high frequency of danger, the world doesn't seem downright mean. Instead, it feels like a playful child who doesn't understand how dangerous their antics are. This leads to a level of charm and innocence that makes each death feel like it was not wasted.

This, however, disappears in the boss fights. These bosses are monsters, and they live solely to destroy you and everything you've worked for. Every ounce of the game is dripping with difficulty, but the bosses manage to also feel out of place. While they use mechanics found in the levels proceeding them, they use them in odd ways. They're not bad; it's just jarring dealing with bosses that manipulate everything you've learned thus far. One could say, however, that they find new and exciting ways to deal with the same mechanics.

The only real drawback is the short play time. There's a mirror mode, which just flips the levels and then features no checkpoints, but there's really just the three levels. It's often disputable if being short hurts a game's value, but in 140, it's apparent that it weakens the experience considerably. The entire main campaign doesn't last long enough to really feel like more than a demo. It shouldn't deter anyone from jumping into the game, but it definitely comes with an asterisk. The experience still holds up wonderfully while it lasts, but as soon as you start to feel the groove, the game is over.

Screenshot for 140 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

140 is a charming, difficult, and incredibly short experience that manages to be both sadistic and inviting the entire time it's on. While it may not last too long, it's still a game any platformer or music fan should invest their time into. While a true platforming juggernaut could finish everything in the game in a few hours, it's the only experience like it, and it's one of the best rhythm platformers ever made.

Developer

Carlsen Games

Publisher

Carlsen Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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