No fly in the ointment to be found here
When Steam Greenlight launched a few months ago, it gave PC gamers the chance to pick and choose those titles which looked particularly gorgeous and meaty. Since then, a barrage of titles have been approved for launch on Steam through the initiative, and games that we may not have spotted otherwise are slipping into the limelight.
Games like Fly’N, for example, which is a sort of platform-puzzle-collect ’em up that follows the story of the World-Tree Buds and their plight to save all the little wood critters and hold back the evil Dyer mechanical corporation. Fly’N is equal parts stylish and deep, with so many little bits and pieces to find hidden beneath its simple platforming shell.
You begin with a single “Bud,” who is able to teleport through special air beams and sing to poorly tree people. For the most part, however, you’re running, double-jumping and making your way up the tree to stop Dyer at the top.
Over time, as you push Dyer back from tree to tree and halt his evil plans, you’ll unlock more Buds who have separate abilities such as clinging to surfaces and inflating up like a balloon. Switching between these different characters allows you to pass a huge number of varying obstacles and, in turn, helps the game keep the action fresh throughout.
All of this plays off the idea of switching between two different “visions” – innate and subtle. An obstacle that is blocking your path may well disappear if you switch vision, while certain collectibles may not be available to grab until you switch.
Now, all of this may sound a little confusing and perhaps a little over-the-top in the controls department. Indeed, to begin with we found the controls to be rather fiddly and simply not tight enough, especially when you throw in the gliding power for good measure.
But then after a short while, everything begins to fall into place, and you just sort of “get it”. What Fly’N really sparks off is memories of the original Rayman (and, to a certain extent, the latest in the series Rayman Origins). For one, it’s all about bombing around, solving minor puzzles to proceed while surrounded by gorgeous art and a dynamic soundtrack that is hugely powerful in setting the scene.
Indeed, Fly’N has secrets to divulge all over the shop. Secret hideaways in walls, secrets at the bottom of pits, hidden areas only accessible by hitting a certain button at a particular time… the list goes on. And then back at your central Cocoon hub, there are even more secrets to unlock, revealed as you complete the main quest.
There are also special rush levels, in which a wall of pain moves slowly up the screen as you attempt to climb as fast as possible to stay away from it. Again, Rayman anyone?
Although Fly’N is a ton of fun, it never fully gets over the control issues. Playing with an Xbox controller helps somewhat, but those who are stuck on a keyboard will no doubt find themselves cursing later in the game, especially when it asks you to jump, double-jump, glide, switch, glide, switch, drop, switch, fall to death, smash keyboard into pieces… you get the idea.
But throw in online leaderboards for each level, tons of collectibles to grab and secrets that you’ll spend a dozen hours finding, and you’re laughing, really. Fly’N should go down as one of the best puzzle platformers of the year, and whether you pick it up now or wait for the inevitable price drop during the Steam Christmas sales, make sure you give this one a go.