140 Review

White noise is your enemy

  • Developer: Carsen Games
  • Publisher: Carsen Games
  • Release Date: 16 October 2013
  • Time played: 1 hour

Around July this year, there was a pretty awesome Humble Bundle deal called the "Eye Candy Humble Bundle" (get it? "pretty"? "eye candy"? Oh never mind). While most of these games are by no means AAA titles, they all have intriguing art styles such as Secrets of Raetikon, Ballpoint Universe: Infinite, KAMI, Antichamber, Cinders and of course, 140. I actually mainly got the bundle for Cinders I have to admit, but that's because I'm a sucker for visual novels - but the rest looked good too so I thought, hell why not. As you know, I've already completed a review of Antichamber which trolololololed me good - so good that there's no real point for me to continue. Consequently, it wasn't really a game I enjoyed but I can appreciate if others like it though (especially the players who are better lateral thinkers than I). 140 will be the second game I review from this Eye Candy Humble Bundle.

Like Antichamber, 140 is also a puzzle game but instead of a first person perspective, 140 adopts a more traditional platformer perspective. The game's description says that "rhythmic awareness is required to overcome obstacles" and since I like rhythm games or games where music is the focus in general, I was looking forward to finally giving 140 a go.

Gameplay (4/5)
The gameplay is very simple in 140 but the difficulty comes with adapting to the many challenges you'll come across. The game is at its core a platformer although you'll encounter different game types at the end of two of the levels during what could be described as "boss battles". For the platformer segment, the arrow keys move your character, a non-descript black square, around the level and hitting spacebar causes your character to jump. The aim of the game is to complete the level usually by hunting down keys that will unlock the next stage. In order to get these keys, you'll have to safely navigate several "white noise" traps (touching "white noise" results in you dying and restarting at the last savepoint) by jumping and adapting to any environmental conditions that change along the way.

I think the difficulty level of 140 is just about right with timing being the key to success here. Thankfully, the game's soundtrack is set in time with just about everything else in the game including some of the hazards you come across. Not entirely sure when the right time is to jump across a ravine? Listen to the music and it may give you a clue.

The little circles are keys you'll need to unlock new areas on the level

Sound (5/5)
There isn't really any audio or sound effects in the game, only music, but there are a couple of nice touches that help with the immersion, despite the player being represented by a humble polygon (e.g. during one sequence while trying to avoid being squashed by giant squares, your character is trapped for a few seconds between them only to hear the background music being muffled thanks to the walls of your temporary cell).

Music (5/5)
Music is what this game is all about, well that and jumping to avoid killing yourself, but music is pretty important especially the beat or the rhythm since this can aid you with completing jumping puzzles. The music plays in time with everything that is animated on the screen (or the things on the screen move in time with the music, whatever) so not only is the music nice to listen to but having a good sense of rhythm will likely mean the game is easier for you. The music is described by the developers as "an energetic, yet melancholic electronic soundtrack" and I tend to agree with this statement - well except the "melancholic" part. It's just an energetic electronic soundtrack to me.

Graphics (2/5)
Again, the developers don't lie with their description of the game. The game is a "minimalist platformer with abstract colourful graphics". Nothing really to get excited about, although I suppose it does have pretty colours (and probably the only reason it was included on the Eye Candy Humble Bundle). I totally dig the timing of the animations with the music though.

Replay (1/5)
The game only took me just over an hour to complete since there's only three levels in the entire game! Apparently you're able to replay the three levels again but in a mirrored mode (and no savepoints) but this is unlikely to take more than another one or two hours at most - not to mention, do you really want to replay something that's almost the same thing except on hard mode? Some will but others can't be bothered. Ultimately, what I'm trying to say is that the game is very short and besides the primitive graphics, this is probably my main criticism of the game. Just as well that at the time of typing up this post, it's only $4.99 USD huh?

Polish (5/5)
I didn't encounter any serious bugs while playing the game.

Score – 8/10

140 is a minimalistic puzzle platformer with abstract, colourful graphics, and a groovy electronic soundtrack - which is pretty much how the developer described the game on the Steam store page. If you're cool with that, you'll find the game a blast to play especially if you have a good sense of rhythm thanks to the music giving you aural cues with respect to the many challenges you face. My only criticism is that the main game will only take you about an hour and its replay value is severely limited thanks to a hard mode that merely recycles the same three levels you've already completed but in reverse and without savepoints.

140 is available from these retailers:

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[ LINK: Official 140 website ]