Sometimes you can tell when you’re going to like a game, just from the first few minutes. Adventure Lamp is just such a game – it’s cute, simple to pick up, difficult to master, and incredibly frustrating to play (in a good way!). Not convinced? Read on…
If you were to read the line “short guy throws his hat to kill baddies”, you could be forgiven for thinking that we were doing another Goldeneye article… but not this time! Adventure Lamp, created and published by Ryan Davis, is a 2D platformer with puzzle elements. The player controls a small chap, Simon the Explorer, who has fallen victim to a cave-in and must escape using only his hat to press buttons and disable bad guys in order to progress through each level.
The game has some pretty straight-forward mechanics. Your character can run, jump, crouch and throw his hat in any direction. Using these simple controls, you must attempt to get to the ladder that leads up to the next level, but watch out for the red things – as they kill you and the level will restart. There is no timer, no pressure, just you and the red things… oh, and the chasms… yeah, best not forget them – you don’t want to fall off the platforms either as that also restarts the level.
There are also buttons to press, which you can do, your hat can do, or enemies can do. These buttons tend to either open doors or unveil hidden platforms that you can use to your advantage. Sometimes they stay activated permanently, and other times they are timer-based and will untrigger after a few moments. This forms the backbone to the game: How can I press that button? How can I jump to that platform way over there? Oh my God the platform I’m running across just disappeared… That sort of thing.
Adventure Lamp is full of these moments, and then some. However, when you’re playing you never feel like the game is unfair, just that you are unable to correctly trigger the buttons or run fast enough across the temporary bridge. It can be frustrating, but when you eventually complete that level you’ve been stuck on for the last 20 minutes and have restarted at least 17,000 times, the feeling of accomplishment is amazing – if a little short lived as you invariably plunge into the next challenging level.
The graphics help matters too. They are super-cute and very polished, with some lovely little effects, like the birds that fly away as you run past them. It’s stuff like this that stops you from throwing your computer out of the window as you fall off the platform just next to the ladder, just at that pivotal moment! The background music is generally calm and relaxed, and the sound effects are cartoon-like and totally fitting for this game.
The levels are grouped into chapters, with the first chapter introducing the various controls and basic mechanics of the game. The whole thing is very engaging – I’d completed the entire first chapter before I remembered that I should be making notes for this review! The second chapter adds more buttons and super-jump beams. The third adds wind. I hate the wind. I’d love to tell you what the other chapters add, but I’m stuck on one of the levels in Chapter 3… grrrr….
My only real criticism of Adventure Lamp is that there is no way to tell how far through a chapter you are. There is also no level select, or any way to progress past the level that you’re stuck on. I would almost prefer to have a timer and level rating system if it meant that I could unlock a level beyond the one I was currently tearing my hair out with… but I guess that would go against the idea of the game, and I wouldn’t want that…
Gravity is a b***h
I very nearly forgot to mention the completely wonderful hat physics! Your hard hat pretty much has a life of its own, and it can be an effort in itself just to keep it on your head as you jump and dodge through each level. Fortunately,
if when you drop your hat it will eventually despawn and respawn on your head. This is a useful feature considering it almost always plinks off the edge of a platform into the abyss. Unfortunately, if your hat is not on your head you cannot throw said hat.
This can lead to some interesting tactical decisions regarding things like squat-jumps and bad guys… Yes, you can jump to that platform, but then the floating balloon thing is going to come and get you while you wait for your hat to reappear on your head… maybe you should try a different route?
And when you do throw the thing, it can bounce of walls, be affected by the wind, gravity etc. It’s been really well implemented and I commend the developers for making it act so realistically in these situations.
So, what we have here is a polished and compelling platformer that tests the player’s dexterity to the extreme. There are tonnes of achievements (including one to complete the game in just 30 minutes! Hahahahahaha!) and there also looks to be a level editor in the works – I look forward to playing around with that!
Adventure Lamp is a great, if testing, game that I have thoroughly enjoyed playing. I will most certainly be revisiting it after writing this review, because I’ll be damned before I concede defeat to a stinking button and some bloody wind!