Sekai Project, the company responsible for bringing a variety of visual novels to the west, brings us Reverse x Reverse an adorably challenging puzzle adventure that will test just about everything you thought you knew about platformers.
The story is told through visual novel scenes between levels and has you following two characters DBG-Code and ALG-Rithm. Together they patrol the world of Desunoya games, defending it from unauthorized programs. They soon encounter an intrusion and set off to fix things.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward but adds enough elements to keep it fresh and challenging. You play as both Code and Rithm. You control them independently and can swap between them at the press of a button. Both characters fall in a different direction, meaning that in one level Code falls to the bottom of the screen while Rithm falls upwards, think Ibb and Obb. Aside from their standard jump, Code can do a rapid dash horizontally, while Rithm can do an air jump, allowing her to jump higher. Just these two tiny differences make for compelling gameplay, as they serve as a setup for many of the game’s puzzles.
Only the active character can be harmed by enemies so you will be frequently swapping between them in order for your inactive character to pass patrolling enemies. At other times you will want to control both characters simultaneously to save on time. This is done by holding the link button.
There is a total of 81 levels. Each world has 8 levels and a 9th unlockable one which is far more challenging. The game never gets stale. Its levels continue to introduce new elements such as blocks that disappear once you pass through them, panels that reverse gravity for Rithm and Code and panels that swap their positions.
A good deal of stages will have you pressing switches in order to start scrolling the screen, meaning you will have to move both characters in order to not get squashed.
Like many other doujin titles Reverse x Reverse allows you to plug in a controller. Playing with a gamepad is not only recommended, but required if you are to make any headway in this game. The game will be testing your twitch reflexes and by the end of the first world the controls are bound to become a second nature.
Even when you have mastered the controls Reverse x Reverse proves to be a punishing title. The frenetic action will keep you on your toes at all times and the maze like levels will force you to think out your route well in advance. The platforming can best be compared to Mega Man and will require around the same level of ninja-like reflexes. The puzzles on the other hand will have you traversing mazes hitting switches and memorizing the layout. The game forces you to solve the puzzles with zero hand holding, rarely seen in modern games.
Even the easiest levels will take a few tries to beat. However, restarting a level is three button presses away and you never have to wait more than a few seconds to begin another run. This makes speed running the levels in order to get a place in the high score list an enjoyment. Comparing your times with others online is frequently all that is required to get you motivated to try the level once again and find that elusive shortcut.
The visuals have very little going for them. Reverse x Reverse has a minimalistic style with visualizer-like backgrounds. The enemies are taken straight from their other game “Tobari and the Night of the Curious Moon”. The effects may look good but other than that nothing really stands out visually as memorable. In the audio department, the game features a varied techno soundtrack that suits the overall feel of the setting. All the story segments are fully voiced, which is something rarely seen in such games.
Reverse x Reverse is one of the most refreshing games of the year. Its challenging puzzles and twitch gameplay will tax you both mentally and physically. Because of this it is bound to carter to a very niche audience. If Reverse x Reverse sounds like a game for you, you will not be disappointed.