Backworlds challenges you to lead a strange, cat-like creature through a passive, puzzle-filled world as you tear the boundary between two dimensions with a simple, painting action.
Logic Ember’s Backworlds is a clever and memorable puzzler, one that I’ve had the fortune to play several times over the last few months — at Intel Buzz, Gamescom and, most recently, at EGX. Everything about Backworlds, from its colourful main dimension, to its painting mechanic, to the ‘nudging’ enemies, makes it a game that feels accessible for all ages, even if some of the puzzles are multi-staged.
Initially, the puzzle-platforming appears quite simple; painting in the other dimension makes some objects passable, some corporeal, others adjustable. However, as the levels continue, the two dimensions in play can have a variety of mechanics which range from one being like swimming in water, another having high-friction surfaces that can be scaled and others having reversed gravity. It gets incredibly smart, yet remains intuitive and easy to parse due to there only being one of these major mechanics in play per level.
The decision(no doubt made early in development) to keep the game completely passive is also something that makes it stick out. I was, at times, nudged backwards from areas I needed to get to by bothersome creatures. Yet at no point was I plummeted onto spikes or left tumbling into oblivion; enemies only shunt, rather than damage. This means that ‘enemies’ simply become mobile obstacles in puzzles, adding a timing element rather than an active threat. It’s a good choice — platformers remain one of the more child-friendly and accessible genres of games, so it is always good to see another that caters so well to a younger audience.
While I didn’t get to see many of the worlds while playing the demo, I really enjoyed my time with it. The painting between dimensions meant that players had a degree of freedom when crafting their puzzle solutions; some players completely erased objects, while others simply removed tiny amounts as required to pass.
Backwords is currently targeting an early 2019 release. When it does release, it will do so for Windows PCs. If you’re interested in staying up to date with the game, you can do so via the game’s Twitter, @backworldsgame.