Developer: Moonspider Studios
Publisher: Moonspider Studios
Genre: Indie, Racing, Puzzle Platformer
I didn’t know what I was expecting when I picked my copy of Harold for reviewing. At first glance I was captivated by the games gorgeous presentation. With the graphics and uplifting music in place, I figured that the game itself was going to be a relatively simple platformer.
What I was given however, only just goes to show that even visuals as charming as these; it’s easy to see how this mask can mislead people like myself. With stressful stages, pretty visuals and rewarding gameplay, Harold is game that provides an engrossing experience that frustrates players with its level of difficultly, and provides motivation to surpass these challenges.
In Harold you play as Gabe, an angel who is currently training up to earn a scholarship for the Archangel Academy. However, In order to score his scholarship Gabe must prove his worth in a series of races; to which he must lead a human to either first or third place in a series of races to earn his qualification.
This is when Gabe is introduced to Harold; a scrawny little dude with very minimal athletic ability. Being placed in such a position, it’s up to Gabe to use his environment to his advantage in order to aid Harold out for the upcoming races.
The core gameplay is pretty much self-explanatory within opening cutscenes. As Gabe you can move platforms, destroy obstacles, have Harold jump and discover alternative paths to get that upper hand. As well as this, players can also use these environmental powers to disadvantage other runners during the race.
Sounds straightforward yes. But when you combine that with challenging level design, an emphasis on players having good reflexes (and Harold’s poor athletic ability) you’re in for one hard game. For the most part, the games pretty difficult, and it’s only after a bit of practice that players will be able to complete the later stages.
Which I found to be pretty fair. The game explains itself well with the tutorials, and provides the necessary details as to how the game operates and whatnot.
The transition from that to the later parts however, is very much like developers teaching players how to walk for the very first time. Yes they’re able to get you standing and to take a few steps here and there.
But from there on out buddy, you’re pretty much forced to sprint.
Other than the main races, there’s also other activities players can also embark with. For instance, at the start of each new area, players must first complete practice stages prior to that. Essentially these stages are the main race divided into various sections. With that, players can trial these parts of the race and figure out what to expect when they eventually start running.
Being an already difficult game, I found these practice stages to be a neat way for players to get that little heads up when they eventually got up the race. With that, hidden shortcuts and challenge modes; players most certainly get a lot of replay value when it comes to the game.
Controls are nice and responsive, with my only gripe with it being the lack of keyboard and mouse support. In order to play Harold, you need either a PC or a 360/XBONE gaming controller ready with you. Without one, you simply just cannot play Harold unfortunately. Minor gripe for me seeing as I had one ready before playing it. But viewing this from a heavy PC gaming demographic, I can see this becoming an issue to that particular market.
But of course, I cannot go ahead and mention Harold without delving deep up the games presentation. Really now, when it comes to the artwork and animation, the developers have really nailed it. Visually this game is gorgeous, and you can just by looking at that much of the art direction feels heavily inspired from the likes of Disney and DreamWorks.
With that statement as well, it stays true with the music as well. Absolutely spot on work in capturing both that uplifting racing spirit and motivation as you get Harold’s pathetic butt from start to finish.
If you’re into challenging platformer games, this just might be the title for you. Presentation, music and gameplay is absolutely spot-on and with it, the game carries a unique charm that truly stands out. The game is hard, but it’s that right level of difficulty that motivates you to keep playing and eventually master as a whole. Whilst it may look simple enough, do not be fooled; you’re in for one heck of a race.