By: Matthew Striplen
To hell with HD graphics and their newfangled high polygon counts. 140 is a brilliant example of the irrelevance of complex graphical capabilities in the face of good game design. Although 140 is considered a platformer, I guarantee you haven’t played one like this before.
You are a shape: sometimes a square, other times a triangle or a circle. Things start out slow, like jumping simple obstacles, but they ramp up pretty fast. Color and shape play important visual roles, and possibly take inspiration from artists like Frank Stella, but the crux of the game is its music.
With wonderfully composed EDM tracks, music controls the very landscape. It forces you to listen deeper to elements of the sound that you might otherwise miss. Blocks that seemingly disappear and reappear at random are actually controlled by subtle drumbeats hidden in the texture of the sound. The key to completing the game is not to trust your eyes, but rather your ears.
Small orbs float around the levels, acting as keys to the next stage. The scene transitions are absolutely stunning, as is their musical accompaniment. Although 140 does not offer save points, the opening of the game provides a choice of three orbs, which transports the player to any level of their choosing. I don’t recommend going out of order, though, since the difficulty is quite steep.
Soon, chunks of white noise appear that annihilate anything in their path, namely you. These take on many forms, like coating parts of terrain, flying overhead, or even boss battles. Although there are only three levels, and hence three bosses, each one makes a lasting impression. They are visually striking, very challenging, and provide a unique twist on the typical boss fight formula.
Speaking of difficulty, death awaits you at every turn. Luckily, numerous checkpoints are there to keep you from having to backtrack too far. This prevented many a rage quit, since death occurs frequently. Most importantly, the difficulty feels fair, and though I got frustrated every now and then, I only had myself to blame.
If you’re into platformers, 140 is a must buy. My biggest complaint is that I want more, and I can’t have any. Beautifully designed minimalistic graphics blend perfectly with a fantastic soundtrack. 140 may be short, but it is definitely sweet.