Sym is a puzzle-platformer that explores social anxiety disorder. Play as Josh, a teenage boy trying to reconcile a maze of two contrasting worlds that coexist within the blank spaces of each other - his perception of reality, and the world he created to avoid his fears.
User reviews:
Positive (30 reviews) - 90% of the 30 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: May 7, 2015

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“There is also a subtle beauty to this game, and one that I can relate to. The constant battle of light versus dark, of fear and loneliness, building yourself back to where you need to be — these are struggles that most humans face at some point, and Sym allows you to play through that emotional roller coaster in a visual way.”

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About This Game

Sym is a puzzle-platformer that explores social anxiety disorder. Play as Josh, a teenage boy trying to reconcile a maze of two contrasting worlds that coexist within the blank spaces of each other - his perception of reality, and the world he created to avoid his fears.

Josh exists in these worlds as alter egos, Caleb and Ammiel. Caleb lives only in the white world, on the fringe of reality. He wants to overcome his fears. Ammiel resides in the darkness; he wants only to be alone and completely detached from human contact.

Take control of these egos and flip between both realms to solve problems and traverse obstacles. Learn to utilize both distinct spaces, to avoid obstacles and find a path to safety.

  • Explore 44 challenging levels of logic puzzles, platforming and mazes.
  • Switch between worlds of light and darkness to overcome obstacles and find the way forward.
  • Create and share new levels easily with the level editor.
  • A Shared World allows players to connect the doorways in their creations to the levels built by others.

System Requirements

Mac OS X
    • OS: Win XP / Win 7 / Win 8
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz Dual Core Processor
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 8800 or equivalent.
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
    • OS: Mac OS X (10.7 or higher)
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 8800 or equivalent.
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
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Positive (30 reviews)
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
72 of 74 people (97%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 7, 2015
I'll try to keep this as simple and short as possible without sounding pretentious or melodramatic.

SYM immediately caught my eye, not only because of the simplistic, extravagant design, but also the theme of social anxiety.

I myself am diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome (great name, isn't it?) which is a major form of social anxiety, and I must say that SYM does an amazing effort at portraying what goes on in the minds of people wih my condition.

The subtle metaphors of the "light" and "dark" worlds representing the two sides that I show/hide from the outside world; "White" being the form of myself trying to act "normal" to people in society; "Black" being a "cocoon" where i reside in isolation away from everyone else.

The hazards in both worlds are also applied to this formula; the eyes and plants in the light world (social anxiety, awkwardness, insecurity, peer pressure, etc.), and the saw blades and the "void" in the dark world ("falling" into depression, sadness).

And the words and phrases scattered throughout SYM? A window into our minds.

SYM is not a "game" per se. It's a near-perfect simulation of what people like me go through on a constant, daily basis, and I cannot recommend SYM highly enough simply for the experience.

Again, this may sound overly dramatic, "attention-grabbing" and "poetic" to most, but to others, it's far from it.

I'd like to personally thank Atrax Games for making a beautiful piece of art that people like me can appreciate and relate to.
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56 of 65 people (86%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 10, 2015
Sym is an abstract puzzle platformer that explores issues surrounding social anxiety. You play as Josh as well as his alter-egos Caleb and Ammiel. Caleb resides in the light side of the game while Ammiel resides in the dark side and you must use them both to complete puzzles. The game itself takes place in strange reality created by our protagonist so that he can deal with his fears, fears which are addressed and dealt with over the course of the game.

One thing I will say, Sym is more of an experience than a game as the gameplay isn't the best and it's also very hard to enjoy, unless you're familiar with social anxiety issues, due to the abstract nature of the story's presentation.

+Cool art style
+Deals with an interesting subject matter in a rather unique way and the way the game uses two alter egos as well as light and dark is a fantastic metaphor for the way people with social anxiety issues feel
+Interesting mechanic of switching between worlds/alter egos
+Forty four levels
+Has an in-game editor which allows you to create your own levels which can then be shared through the game's Steam Workshop

+/-Very abstract presentation of the story, can be quite difficult to follow but does a good job of showing the player what it's like to have social anxiety issues
+/-Some of the platforms in the game appear and disappear, often controlled by you, which is an interesting mechanic but on a few levels once the platforms are gone they're gone and it's no longer possible to complete the level hence you have to restart
+/-Locked to 30FPS but that's due to the animation software used

-No gamepad support and using a keyboard for platforming is very imprecise which leads to a lot of frustrating deaths
-Using the Steam Overlay while in-game sometimes stops the game responding to keyboard inputs
-Very few in-game options
-All of the animations in the game are just two still images being switched between which I found to be incredibly jarring to look at, especially when lots of things were going on at the same time


A challenging puzzle platformer with an interesting concept and a cool art style that is let down by its lack of engaging gameplay and technical issues.

***This review was written using a key provided by the Developer for review purposes***

El K.
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17 of 19 people (89%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 7, 2015
Sym is hard to really give a yay or nay on due to the fact that it's very much an experience that will be based on each individual. The game hits themes surronding social anxiety disorder, and those who are unfamilar with the affliction won't find a game that can make up for in its mechanics or gameplay. The gameplay is alright, there's a level of precision that the controls don't really help highlight, and while the switching between worlds can make for some interesting puzzle mechanics, it just doesn't have the grasp on gameplay to really succeed in that section.

However, it has strengths in its theming and the concepts behind it. The ideas it touches with the way it presents its games in black and white and the way you escape from the world is really interesting, and even the mechanics in the gameplay itself play toward these themes. It's most definitely an experience, and it's a game that will make me remember it for a little bit at this point. It's not a good “game”, it's an experience.

For some gameplay and commentary:
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11 of 11 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: May 7, 2015
The art style caught my eye when I was browsing through some indie games. This game isn't bad, but it's not incredible either. "Sym" isn't worth the original price or when I bought it on sale. You're just paying for the experience.

The game starts off giving you the basics on how to play. Nothing complicated at all. (Arrow keys to move around or A,S,D,W) The most challenging thing you will probably face are the spinning turbines, that you have to avoid while jumping on to a safe spot. You just need to have patience in order to avoid the obstacles. This game shouldn't be rushed or you will die. Personally it's a frustrating game that made me itch all over.

The vague and morbid messages are a tad too much for me. It felt like they were trying to scrap up some phrases and force them together. "God is not human" "That he should lie" "Not a human being"...It really depends on the individual and how they try to understand the game's message.

Would I recommend this game to anyone? it's really tough to say. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who has no patience or isn't really to keen on trying to make sense of what the game is trying to say.

My rating on this game: 6/10 (decent)
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10 of 15 people (67%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
15.6 hrs on record
Posted: May 12, 2015
I know I'm probably not the only person who will try this game because of the premise, knowing full well that platformers and jumping puzzles isn't a strong point of mine. I can say that this will be, at times, so rage-inducing that it takes you right out of the amazing premise. I want to like this so badly, but spend more time angry than admiring the experience.
As mentioned before - platformers and jumping puzzles are a complete challenge for me. It's not helped by the fact that the jump button doesn't always behave as intended (or, sometimes, at all) when moving/jumping simultaneously, and there are some blade deaths I really want to call "BS" on - and if I was better at this kind of game I might be able to overcome those glaring issues. I have died 200+ times, averaging almost 15 per level, though a couple levels make up for 50+ each.
I'm not sure I'll be able to finish (my profile says something like fourteen hours, it's been less than half that so far, I have a bad habit of letting things run in the background). This is a fault of mine. I just kind of hoped a game about social anxiety would be more approachable across the board, and more of an artistic expression of that kind of life (which I live), but I can't sit back and enjoy that as it's simply in a form that is impossible for me to enjoy, despite trying really hard to grind through it.
I *want* to recommend the game, and do, because I know the shortcomings are mine - but I have to rate this from the perspective of other people who may be more like me than the other reviewers - curiosity-seekers thinking of taking a risk on gameplay that isn't for them because they struggle with the game's main themes and want to see that reflected in a game.

[edits because I can't math at 5:51am]
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 29, 2015
Below you'll find a video and written impression on the game

Sym is an interesting puzzle platformer that utilizes both the negative and positive space in the level design.

You'll be trying to get from point A to point B, but there are multiple dangers and obstacles to over come in each map. From dangerous saws to man eating plants, there is a fair amount of things to avoid. But other than dangerous obstacles, the game will require the player to think about using both the positive and negative space to traverse the world. If you find a ledge too high, go into the negative space where gravity is also reversed. Through that, you'll be able to reach platforms that would otherwise be unreachable. It's a bit of a fresh take on puzzle platformers, and the positive / negative space mechanic is smartly designed.

Aesthetically the game has a very interesting style. Every thing is rendered in a black and white, almost pencil sketch look, with a very surreal design behind it. The music is pleasant and suiting to the armosphere. It's a pretty good looker with out stressing out your machine.

Though Sym is a pretty satisfying puzzler with some unique ideas, it's not perfect. There are some serious quality of life issues that needs to be addressed. The game feels like it would suit a gamepad perfectly, yet has no gamepad support what so ever. There's also minimal options for the player to tune, and the resolution isn't in proper 1080p. These issues feel like short comings and mar the overall quality to the game.

Overall Sym is an interesting puzzler with a unique look. The levels are satisfying to solve, though the game could use some better features and options.

- Unique positive / negative space mechanic
- Interesting surreal look
- Good soundtrack

- No gamepad support
- Poor options
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 14, 2015
"Sym is a hauntingly beautiful game that provides a solid platforming experience but is lacking in content and hollow in its message."

Full Review Here:
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 23, 2015
Sym suffers from the "been there done that" mentality. In the crowded field that is the puzzle/platformers genre, it is ridiculously hard to make your game stand out, be fun, and unique. Sym attempts this with its moody tones/art and some upside down platforming. In the description of the game, you play Josh, a teenage boy with social anxiety disorder. The entire game is supposed to be some sort of metaphor for the mindset and thoughts this kid is having. Only problem is that I was more distracted by silly controls and bad hit detection, then I was by the text that floats in the background.

I am getting ahead of myself though. Sym gives you the ability to switch sides of the level. Everything is divided by black & white. You will need to use your ability to flip the level to get past certain puzzle challenges or obstacles. Obstacles can range from man eating plants, spinning blades, and giant monsters that eat you. The goal is to get to the door that is somewhere in the level and move along. For the most part the level design is done fairly well, however there doesn't seem to be a consistent difficulty as you make your way through the 44 levels. One level is incredibly hard and then the next incredibly easy. The levels do usually follow a theme though, pertaining to a new obstacle. Where things begin to fall apart is the controls. It currently has zero controller support and very poor collision detection.

Let's start with the spinning blades, they can kill you whenever they want. I have died standing in a block next to one and then lived while standing on top of one. Then there are the man eating plants. These are an instant death, no chance is given to move away from the block that it spawns from. The monsters are more or less easy to avoid for the most part. The platforming, which is the key component to the game is messy. You clip when you jump through a block that is 3 blocks high, it doesn't appear like you should be able to jump this high but you can. I never felt that the controls were very responsive and most of the time I felt I was just lucky, instead of being able rely on my skills. Luckily, death isn't too punishing in the game, with an instant reload that takes you back to the beginning of the level every time. Starting at the beginning isn't new to harder platformers in the genre.

The theme of Sym is something that is eye catching, an unusual blend of strange art and doodles. Now I cannot comment to social anxiety disorder, what I can comment on is how I perceived the game. The game tries to deliver a message or vibe through narrative as you make your way through the level. Floating words that describe a particular thought or emotion. This works in theory for about the first 3 levels. Then I stopped reading it because I had to focus so intently on making jumps because of the poor hitbox detection. You simply begin to ignore it and look for the door out of the level so you can end it and not have to start over. I honestly wish I could tell you what the story was about but I simply just didn't have the chance to notice it. I felt this could've been avoided with more cut scenes inbetween levels. For a game that was aiming to be more like art, it seemingly focused on the level design more than anything else. Words in a background, do not a story make. To be fair, I don't have social anxiety disorder. There is a chance that I simply have a disconnect with the subject matter.

Returning to the visuals, the art of Sym is striking, you will either love it or hate it depending on personal preference. I found myself enjoying it though, with the art style feeling reminiscent of something found in Limbo. The music in Sym is done quite well, hitting a perfect balanace between moody and downright eerie. The tracks changing as you flip through the worlds really drives in the fact that these are two different worlds.

Options wise, Sym finds itself lacking. There are no resolution or graphics controls whatsoever, nor even sound/music sliders. You can toggle the sound off/on and put the game in windowed mode. That's about it. Where Sym did manage to impress was its level editor and shared community levels. Creating a level and sharing it with others is extremely easy and having personally played some of the user made levels, was a very enjoyable experience. Unfortunately the amount of user made levels isn't impressive and I quickly found myself wanting more.

Like I mentioned earlier what it comes down to is "been there done that" mentality. I have played Puzzle/Platformers and while Sym does strive to be different, it felt like it needed more. If you're aiming to be strange, go all in. If you want to be a difficult game, go all in. If you want to speak about a mental disorder. go all in. I want to know the insides and outs of this disorder. Make me understand what it is like to have social anxiety. Sym didn't accomplish this for me. As to the other aspects, it was fun but it isn't the greatest platforming experience. Especially when its in such a saturated genre.

The game does have quite a bit of levels and like I mentioned, with user made levels has the potential for more, if people suddenly start making more levels. So there is some replay, but that could be limited. Perhaps if you enjoy making levels and challenging yourself this is something that may appeal to you.
At the end of the day, I wanted to like Sym, I wanted to hear its message and understand what was going on, but I felt like silly hitboxes and some designs held it back from doing this. I wanted to take the plunge.

Now comes the hard question. Do I recommend the game?
Sym has affected some people in many personal ways, given them a form of cartharsis that some games never will. However I didn't feel that way. I only looked at this from the angle of a game. In truth, Sym speaks to people in different ways. I can't be the judge of how this game will affect you. You may love it and understand all of its themes and overlook its shortcomings. Plus its pretty damn affordable too at $7.99. On the other hand you may find yourself asking what it is you bought, with so many other games in the genre. It doesn't innovate all that much and doesn't really redefine the wheel but Sym never aimed to do that. What it does aim to do is present an image. One that isn't clear to me but may be to others. So decide for yourself, experience what you can of the game and then make a educated decision. Try the demo.
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 22, 2015
Keyboard-breaking frustration in puzzle platformers isn't new in the independent games market, with one of its most popular ones, Super Meat Boy, being extremely successful for not only it's gameplay but for its difficulty too. Sym, developed by Atrax Games and published by Mastertronic, is no exception to this, leaving the player growling in frustration at the screen after they've died for the thousandth time. However, what Sym tries to do is tell a unique story through its visuals and gameplay that symbolize the experience of anxiety. Not just normal butterflies in the stomach nervousness, but actual social anxiety that can be crippling to someone's life. This makes this game quite an interesting beast to try to understand; while you may peel back a few layers to what's going on, there's no doubt more going on beneath the surface.

You play as Caleb, a lanky shadowy man who lives on the fringe of reality, wanting to conquer his fears, and Ammiel, a white tentacle creature who lives detached from the world around him, allowing his fears to get the better of him. They are both alter egos of a boy named Josh, and each of their worlds represent separate sides of how Josh perceives things; two distinctive characters with similar playstyles, but different things to conquer in their own respective worlds. For example, with Caleb you'll run and jump over ledges, walking over hidden spinning blades very easily, but then you come across a wide open monstrous eye, then you switch to Ammiel who avoids the eyes because he lives in his land of shadows. You switch back and forth between the two characters in order to get through each of the many puzzles there are in the game. Each puzzle has a cryptic message written there that can have tips on how to get through the level, but the player can also easily perceive it as talking about the games overarching theme and plot. For the most part, the player is left to their own devices; the game only tells them the controls at the very beginning of the game and will warn them of new obstacles when they enter the first puzzle of an area. Beyond that, if you can't figure something out you are out of luck.

This is one of those games that requires near perfect execution of all of your platforming, which is guaranteed to frustrate some people. This is Super Meat Boy levels of hard, and it will mess some people up. There are points where you can actually get stuck and be forced to kill yourself in order to get out of those situations, which is a real hassle. While these moments are few and far between, it is still annoying when this happens since now you have to redo everything you just did. This game expects you to know what you're doing and will not show you any mercy. This only gets frustrating during the longer puzzles, because there's no checkpoint system. This means that if you die from one of those lovely one-hit deaths, you're going back to the start, no exceptions. A checkpoint system would have been nice in these situations, but at least there are no lives in this game so you can die as many times as you want. That said, it is still a little bit embarrassing when you are on the level select screen and the game shows you just how many times you died.

Full Review
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
26.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 18
Allow yourself to go deeper: At it’s most basic level Sym is a puzzle-platformer similar in style to a number of other titles on Steam. For those who just want to get that out of it then you will. However, for those who allow themselves to philosophise about the game you’ll get so much more. I really would like to challenge you to do so because what you get is something far greater than just another twitchy puzzle-platformer. Sym as the Steam description explains explores social anxiety disorder. The game explains very well the type of reality versus the make believe – two very different worlds that exist in the mind of somebody with such a disorder. These disorders include people on the Autism spectrum which has become increasingly common in today’s society. If this describes you or somebody that you know then Sym does as good a job as any piece of media across any medium that I have experienced to do so.

Clever art and game design: In order to communicate the differences between the two worlds we are given two spectrums to play in – the light world which is based upon the fringe of reality and the dark world which is established as the make believe. However, the game design delves much deeper than just offering the light and the dark. The types of traps that are featured throughout the game are certainly metaphoric of the types of ‘traps’ that people suffering social anxiety issues deal with every day. An example that was particularly poignant to me was the usage of the Venus flytrap. This encapsulates perfectly those who are frightened to escape their make believe because they feel like once they leave their dark, safe place, that they will be captured and eaten alive.

Great music but it does become repetitive: The music suits both the art and game design. However, it is one of the areas that I felt was a little bit of a let down. It sounds good enough but it becomes overly repetitive very quickly. I ended up turning the sound off as I played which is not what Atrax Games would have intended.

It ticks the boxes: I believe that Sym ticks all of the boxes that players would be looking for in a puzzle-platformer. At 44 levels the game is certainly long enough given the deeper context of the game. Externally, the fact that the game comes with both Steam achievements and is a part of the Steam Trading Card program provides something for the achievement hunters and badge collectors. It’s good to see that Atrax Games and/or the publisher, Mastertronic, have taken advantage of what the Steam platform has to offer. As we’ve discovered with other puzzle games on Steam not everyone is as intuitive as what is the case here. If you’re going to put a game onto Steam then I would urge you to maximize your game’s potential by doing so. It not only shows that you know what you’re doing but it shows that you care about your product as well.

Sym isn’t so simple: The final note that I wanted to raise was that the game is not as simple as it looks. The game play can be challenging and perhaps a little unfair at times. However, the challenge is an enjoyable one. There will be stages that completely do your head in and force you to put tremendous thought into finding the solution. Rather than being a negative I argue that this is a positive as it helps Sym provide the necessary understanding of social anxiety disorder. This is how people feel that experience it.

Sym takes the important issue of social anxiety disorder head on and succeeds in a way that few other pieces of media across any medium have done before. There’s a pretty solid game here too.

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Recently Posted
1.9 hrs
Posted: August 24
I'm hoping at some point that this game wil be xbox controller compatible so I won't have to use a keyboard. This game is a very simple concept, and I love the art style as well. I really like the meaning behind the game overall. Hiding from the monsters that might eat you alive, all while trying to avoid your sharp bladed thoughts in the shadows. It's a great way of bringing awareness to social anxiety through a metaphorical lense.
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6.8 hrs
Posted: April 24
What first attracted me to this game was the unique art stye, and as I continued to play I discovered it's fascinating game mechanics, one draw back I found was it's Repetedly frustrating stages.
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1.0 hrs
Posted: January 6
I've played enough platformers to be frustrated and bored with the genre overall, and I find that Sym does something different that really made me enjoy it. Maybe it's because I have a history of emotional/mental health problems, and I can connect with delving deep into your mind and feelings. A game, especially a platformer, that can evoke emotion or even in a way simulate the feeling of being lost in your mind and feelings, is not something you find *too* often. The game is simple enough, imo, to not get too frustrating.

I don't absolutely love keyboard controls, but that's easy enough to fix with a gamepad emulator (joy2key or x360ce).

Between a story that is designed to evoke thought/feelings and a good amount of levels, as well as the editor/level sharing feature, this definitely gets a "yes" recommendation from me. This game will stick with me for sure.

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The Unabridged Gamer
2.9 hrs
Posted: June 30, 2015
Simply one of the best games to approach the topic of social anxiety. It really is a great game on its own as well, although there are a few rough spots. Completionists might have some headache due to some frustrating final levels and odd puzzles, but the fact it comes with a level editor means that you really never run out of content. It's also a steal at its normal price alone, so on sale, it is a must buy.
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4.4 hrs
Posted: June 22, 2015
I want to say, I like this game. It's a platformer that combines puzzles and reaction gameplay, and it was interesting for me,

Cons first. The game isn't easy, and I few times got frustrated dying or falling a fortieth time a level. The game also doesn't offer much different stuff. It's a bit monotonous. Though it's interesting enough for 44 original levels, I don't really think user-made levels would be interesting after the original game (unless the game was not difficult enough for you and you want it harder), though I'm going at least to try some. Some levels just don't fit well to the plot (especially the garden ones with Biblical quotes - I don't mind Biblical quotes, but I haven't seen the connection to the game plot).

And what is good. Atmosphere! It seems to really give you some impressions of social anxiety syndrom. These phrases written in the levels were really able to put me in this atmosphere. Most levels and puzzles are interesting. There are reaction and speed based levels, logic-based levels, and the ones combining both, and they are really interesting. Original graphics - after all I liked it.

Ammiel's ending was a bit shocking for me, and I got really deep and unexpected impressions in the end, which I like. Still didn't made it to Kaleb's ending.

So - if you aren't disappointed by cons above - buy this game. I'd say - it almost worth its full price, and don't hesitate if it's on the sale. However, still it may be the matter of taste. I can easily imagine people that wouldn't like it. The demo gives right impression about the game, so try it first. If you like the demo then you probably will like the game.
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4.8 hrs
Posted: June 20, 2015
If you are looking for a rage platformer you can find hundreds of good ones, but this isn't it. It's quite easy and short and looks like a programing homework. But if you like paying attention to details then you can get a unique experience.
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