Let me introduce you to this girl I know.
Artist Nathan Jurevicius’ ScaryGirl started as a web comic that spawned a graphic novel, a toy line and a browser game. On January 18th her strong following and unique style are coming to the Xbox Live Arcade courtesy of Tik Games. If you’re like me, and haven’t heard of ScaryGirl before now go look her up. The art is quite striking and deserves a look even if you’re not going to play the game. Now that we’ve cleared that up, we have a game to talk about.
As I may have mentioned, the first thing you’ll notice about ScaryGirl is the art. The style is colorful while still managing to feel quite creepy at times. When ScaryGirl wants you to be in a dark place it’s implied by the art style rather than just being black and the characters all manage to be cute and creepy at the same time. I wasn’t sure that was possible until I saw it done here. Enemies appear cuddly at first but something about them tells you to stay away, even before they become hostile.
ScaryGirl (the game) is a platformer that’s heavy on action, with combat being a big part of things. ScaryGirl (the girl) has a weird tentacle arm that she uses to beat up the game’s various enemies. Combat seems simple, with X being light attack, Y being strong and RT picking up stunned enemies, but the combat scenarios are rarely simple. Often you’ll be facing multiple enemies, some on the ground and some in the air and you’ll find yourself beating on enemies with the goal of grappling them and throwing them at others just to control the crowd.
Combat in ScaryGirl doesn’t have a chance to get dull as the moves don’t vary much but the enemies do. You’ll always be encountering new creepy-cuddlies, with new attacks and new strategies to work out.
Moving through the environments will take quite a bit of skill as well. ScaryGirl can jump, glide for a short time by whirling her creepy tentacle arm above her head, swing from certain branches and climb certain walls. Tik Games have also thrown in a number of different dynamic set pieces that will further complicate your efforts such as trampolines, falling boulders and throwing one glowing mushroom at another non-glowing mushroom to make it glow. Standard stuff.
Though the game takes place on a 2-D plane there will also be some areas where the path will branch off and use the third dimension for a few moments. I thought at first that this would end up being disorienting but it’s handled in such a way that it works. The transition is made easy by the stunning background art that leaps off the screen to begin with.
Branching paths offer a bit of replay value, and you may stick around to collect all of the collectible Vinyls, but, barring these elements, your time with ScaryGirl will be fairly short. If you’re a big fan of the series, or the game, you might be here slightly longer but most of you will be through in a handful of hours.
ScaryGirl does offer drop-in, drop-out co-op but it is, sadly, only local. The second player doesn’t have much stake in the game so there isn’t any real appeal to co-op. We can’t say it enough, if you have offline co-op you’ve left something out if you don’t have online co-op as well. It’s 2012.
The only achievement that will offer any extra challenge is ‘Winning’ which is unlocked for completing each level with a perfect status. The rest will unlock while completing the game.
ScaryGirl is a beautiful game that is a lot of fun and will offer a great challenge for platformer fans. Too often do we see art-heavy, or story-heavy, games end up being no fun to play; this is not the case with ScaryGirl. The issue lies in the fact that there just isn’t enough of it to justify the 1200 point ($14.99) price tag. Fans of the series, and/or fans of platformers in general, will be happy with ScaryGirl but if you were looking for a Live Arcade game to hold you over until the bigger releases of the season, ScaryGirl won’t likely be it. It sure is pretty though!