Review: ScaryGirl (PS3)

Title: ScaryGirl
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.0 GB)
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: TikGames
Original MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
ScaryGirl is also available on Xbox Live Arcade.
The PlayStation Network version was used for this review.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 253 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
ScaryGirl is based on a charming world created by Australian artist Nathan Jurevicius. In it, you’ll play as the titular character who was abandoned by the side of the road one night and found by a friendly octopus named Blister. He found all sorts of clothes and things for her to wear at the bottom of the sea and built her a tree house to live in. ScaryGirl is having recurring dreams about a mysterious man and when dead leaves begin to wash up on shore, Blister asks her to head to the mountains to find Treedweller and see what’s going on. He tells her to consult Bunniguru, a large rabbit that lives in the tree trunk for advice on her journey. Yup, it’s gonna be that kind of game.

You visit Bunniguru which will then kick you into a tutorial explaining the basics of movement and combat. The game itself is a 2.5D action platformer and you’ll be using ScaryGirl’s whip-like tentacle arm for light and heavy attacks. You’ll also have some basic combos and the ability to stun enemies. Once stunned, you can grab them and either throw them at other enemies, smash them into the ground or pull a few other cool moves once you get some upgrades. You’ll also be able to use the tentacle arm to hook onto some objects and even fly for a short time.

Gems are littered around the levels and you’ll be collecting them for higher scores and to purchase upgrades when they become available. A number of the levels also have branching paths, making backtracking essential for more gems and higher scores. The combat can almost be described as God of War lite, with combos and juggling enemies in the air but it’s all done with an adorable and memorable style.

The are a number of boss battles throughout the game, some easier than others. If you’ve played this type of game before, you’ll know what to expect, looking for patterns and attacking weaknesses. You’ll also find two other characters every now and then that can help you out. One will restore full health for a number of gems and the other has a store where you’ll purchase any unlocked upgrades. The upgrades range from vinyl figures you can collect and display in your tree house to new attachments for your tentacle arm to new combos. You’ll need to unlock a number of these to get through the game as the enemies get much tougher the further you go.

Some of the attachments include a feather which lets you float farther, an anchor which makes your attacks more devastating but slower, a magnet which attracts gems and so on. The combo upgrades fit right in with the offbeat style of the game, my favorite being the mass of tentacles that rise up out of the ground and slam down on nearby enemies dealing massive damage.

The other trick in your arsenal is Scary Mode. You have a meter that fills in the bottom left of the screen which can be triggered when full. At that point the colors drain a bit from the screen and things seem to enter a dream-like state where ScaryGirl becomes a monster that can one hit kill pretty much anything. It’s really fun to watch.

The story progresses nicely through the game and the difficulty has a pretty steady curve save for the Rooftops level where things become near impossible. Having infinite lives is helpful, but get past that and you should be fine.

Visuals:
Gorgeous, sumptuous, whimsical, how can I describe them? Just look at the screenshots in this review and realize it all looks even better in motion. When the path splits, you can usually see the other path trailing off into the distance and see gems and enemies out of focus in the background making you want to go back and head that way as well.

The characters and enemies are all imaginatively designed with a quirky, fun style. Even ScaryGirl has a sweet charm about her and it all looks wonderful in the pseudo-3D environment. The color palette and the blending and shading is just fantastic, which, being based on the work of an artist is to be expected, but I absolutely love the look of this game.

Audio:
The only voice in the game is that of the somber British accented narrator and the work is excellent. Sound effects are well placed, allowing you to hear what’s just off screen so you’ll know what’s coming up. Each of the environments and enemies have their own unique feel and the sound design plays a big part in establishing all of it.

The music is mostly a combination of guitar and keyboards and it blends in beautifully with the art style. It never feels tired or repetitive even when you get stuck on a level and have to replay it a number of times.

Online/Multiplayer:
No online is available but there is an option for two player local co-op throughout the entire game. The second player joins as Bunniguru who tends to be a little faster than ScaryGirl but the combat seems generally the same. There is also a placeholder for DLC but we don’t know yet what form that will take, whether it’s additional levels or characters or something entirely different.

Conclusion:
ScaryGirl is a wonderful game overall with some really good platforming and combat along with a nice upgrade path and imaginative weapons and enemies. I mistakenly listed the price at $14.99 on the podcast and said it was still worth it, but at the correct price of $9.99, this game’s a steal. If you like action platforming or quirky stories, you’re going to love this game.

On a side note, there’s a Minis title available on the PlayStation Store also from TikGames called Dr. Maybee & The Adventures of Scary Girl. If you enjoy the game I’ve reviewed here, I urge you to check this one out as well. It’s designed like a 16-bit 2D platformer with similar mechanics but a different storyline and it’s the perfect complement to this game. It’s really a treat to play the two of them back to back.

Score:
9.0

Trailer

Screenshots

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

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  • I really didn’t like the demo of this game.

    •  Then you probably wouldn’t like the full game.  I went into it not knowing what to expect but I really think it’s fantastic.

  • Anonymous

    Nice review, I didn’t bother trying the demo but will do now. Keep up the great podcast & site.

  • Damon Bullis

    I am really looking forward to playing this game.  I just finished two games in my backlog and am looking for a current game before I go back into my backlog.