Based on the graphic novel of the same name, ScaryGirl is the journey of a rather unusual little girl. Adopted to a giant talking octopus, with a tentacle for an arm and donning pirate attire, she's been having some unpleasant dreams lately and as such sets out to visit the Tree of Knowledge and discover just what they actually mean.
Though it starts out strong with an unique premise and some highly amusing narration, the story loses its footing midway through as characters are thrust into the plot with no introduction, and ending on a laughable attempt of moral choice. If nothing else however it does act as a means to showcase a great variety of enemies and locales, and in that regard it does its job admirably.
In the fashion of games such as Klonoa and Kirby 64, ScaryGirl is a 2.5D platformer with an added emphasis on platforming, and it uses the perspective to grand effect. Paths wrap around levels in a visually interesting manner, and on occasion there are even multiple pathways through which was a neat touch. Though the actual platforming and beat-em-up style fighting are far from their most refined form, I nonetheless found it enjoyable...at first. The further I got into the game the more the many problems began test my patience, and during the final third I was almost begging for it to end.
The fact of the matter, as much as it pains me to have to say it, is that in nearly every aspect ScaryGirl feels half finished. Platforms are often poorly placed, there are numerous difficulty spikes, and noticeable input latency makes pulling off combos much harder than it should be. The presentation only makes things worse, with choppy animations, noticeably absent sound effects, and a complete lack of widescreen support of video options. I also ran into a fairly large number of bugs, from item counters breaking to health pickups not healing me, to having to re-enable fullscreen what most every launch.
Though it's impossible to say with certainty, I honestly feel that given a few more months in development this could have been a much better game. Further testament to this is how infinitely more polished the early portion is than later levels, which leads me to believe they simply ran out of time/money and had to push it out the door in its current state.
Overall I did have fun with ScaryGirl, but do to how very flawed it is i can't advise others to play it. My first impression was one of huge potential, from the fantastic art style to the interesting level structure, but that was quickly replaced by disappointment at the deluge of bugs, presentation issues, and bad design decisions. Like the girl herself ScaryGirl is pretty rough around the edges, but deep down you can't help but want to love her. Unfortunately in the case of this game, I simply couldn't. I applaud Square-Enix for taking a chance on a smaller indie title, but hope next time they take a bit more care in ensuring it's ready for release.
Posted: October 24th, 2013