Incredible Mandy is an amazingly fun and challenging action platforming game that takes new, fresh ideas and wraps them up into thought-provoking puzzles that are as fun to solve as they are to discover.
Incredible Mandy’s story is that of a brother and sister recovering their memories after a tragic accident. A gorgeous anime-style cutscene showcases a fantasy world containing an island that Mandy and her brother stand on — which is suddenly invaded by streaks of fireballs raining down from the sky and as the explosions engulf them and blow the island into rocky chunks, the brother wakes from his dream. A poem then displays on the screen that suggests he is not truly awake. Yes, it’s one of those types of stories.
After a brief loading screen, you’re thrown into a tutorial area of sorts. The floating islands before you serve to showcase your platforming abilities and get you up to speed on the basics of what your ‘light sword’ can do. You also have a bow with arrows, but these mostly serve to activate some of the abilities of your sword.
I feel like I should point out that Incredible Mandy begins the game with a choice: enemies or no enemies — presumably as a way to simply experience the puzzle gameplay without the chore of combat or even as a mode for younger players. Most of what your sword can do is used for puzzle solving, but if you opt to have enemies in the game, you’ll mostly be hacking and slashing till they are defeated. It’s nice to have this option whether you want to play the game with combat or not, but from what I saw, even if you end up changing your mind, the enemies are totally avoidable in pretty much every capacity.
That’s not to say there isn’t any challenge in Incredible Mandy as there is plenty to be found. Each perfectly and brilliantly constructed puzzle will have you using your light sword to complete various tasks such as activating switches and other mechanics. One of the main features is being able to stick the sword into various surfaces, which then creates a clone of it.
If, for example, you were to stick a copy of your sword into the ground — if you charge up the sword in your hand by holding the attack button, you can then hit the copy to do explosive light damage to enemies or to emit a blast which may be used to hit a slightly out of reach switch. You can also stick swords into vertical surfaces such as moving fan blades and then use your bow and arrows to shoot them and activate a blast after they’ve risen up into the air. You aren’t given unlimited power to stick swords everywhere, however, as there is a sword energy limit that you need to recharge at conveniently placed butterfly fountains.
Beyond these sword abilities, there is also a robot companion named Mr. White who follows you throughout your journey. A lot of your puzzle solving will be done figuring out how to move this long-armed robot through the levels, as he can use his stretchy arms to pull heavy blocks and platforms. Mr. White tends to rest on grapple points waiting for his opportunity to help, and it’s up to you to help him get to the next one.Most of the puzzles in the game require in the use of your sword, bow, and robot to solve, but it’s the boss fights that really shine. Each environment has a story behind it, and each of these memories are represented as a painted scene after completing each stage. The bosses also serve as an embodiment of each particular memory. Like many of the Zelda bosses, you use techniques and lessons learned from puzzles within each level to help determine and exploit their weaknesses. The boss designs don’t particularly scream for you to attack a glowing hit point either, so it’s up to you to figure out how to tackle these behemoths. Each one feels unique and nuanced and they are certainly some of the best parts of the game.
The graphics in Incredible Mandy also steal the show as they help bring the whimsical, dream-like world to life. From floating castles and ancient towers to lava fields and dense forests, the details of the environments and set pieces are colorful and vibrant, but well defined and help give the world stability, despite the fantasy setting. I can’t help but be remembered of another excellent puzzle-platformer, Rime, as one of the seaside castle areas looks like it could have been lifted right from the game. That’s about the highest compliment I can give the art team, as Rime is likely one of the prettiest games of this generation. Additionally, simple piano themes vary from area to area, but deliver a solid representation of the themes and environments and although aren’t necessarily toe-tappers, they do a good job at filling each area with music. The boss fight tracks, however, often use choirs to deliver an over-the-top epic score worthy of the encounter and are certainly some of the best songs in the game.
I can honestly recommend Incredible Mandy to nearly any gamer. The puzzles are smart, the boss fights are fun, and the sword abilities and lovable robot make this game a memorable one. I especially love how each area represents a different strong memory between Mandy and her brother. While the game can be completed in an afternoon, hidden collectables that showcase additional pieces of the team’s gorgeous painted artwork reveal a bit more about the story behind the game and are totally worth the revisit. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the game from the very beginning and how I found myself thinking about it hours and days after I’ve finished it. Check out this incredible adventure, as it’s one you surely shouldn’t miss!