Oh, don’t look at me like that. ‘Hark at him reviewing his oddball indie games about lines’, you mock, thinking I’m wearing a pair of empty frames and reading a copy of Das Kapital upside down on the bus. I’m such an individual. No, there’s just very little out this month, we like indie developers and we got this game for free, which always sweetens the deal (though be under no illusions – it doesn’t colour our opinions in any way!)
Still, Jumping Line is quite the fun puzzle game and if you need to kick yourself in the spare time for a couple of hours, you could do a lot worse – here’s why.
When you start up Jumping Line, you’ll find yourself wondering when The Impossible Game and Line Rider got drunk and had a baby, but surprisingly it’s quite unlike either despite the minimalist aesthetic and eponymous use of lines. The bulk of the gameplay requires a good sense of timing, some luck and a reasonably stab at trajectories and other factors in the surprisingly sophisticated physics of the game.
It’s encouraging to see a game made using Unity, but more so is its soundtrack, a jazzy piano piece playing throughout that’s like honey dripping onto your ear drum, only without the pain that would probably cause in real life. That said, it’s the sort of thing that will regularly haunt your worst nightmares if you spend ages on a particularly tricky puzzle – which I totally didn’t do a few times towards the end.
See, for the length of the game it manages to pack a surprisingly varied amount of content in. One moment you’ll be timing your leaps across asynchronously spinning platforms, the next you’ll be desperately trying to keep your perpetually bouncing squiggle below a certain height so that you don’t accidentally hit the switches keeping your track under you. After that, you might have to keep position on a rapidly crumbling collection of blocks transporting you across a chasm, then midway through enter a flipped-gravity zone and duck under the same platform in time to stop yourself being flung into the sky. It’s really weird, putting me most in mind design-wise of the pristine geometric shape-fest QUBE, as well as surreal webcomic Circle Versus Square.
What makes this game very difficult to review (other than my terrible lack of energy and being so out of practice with reviewing) is the fact that I can’t think of any real criticisms for it, which isn’t necessarily a good thing when that’s because the game is just too short. An experienced puzzler or someone with reasonably good reactions and forward thinking can probably finish the main game in a couple of hours or less, and while the level editor and user-designed stages offer a decent amount of extra material you’ll swiftly tire of them as well if you’re anything like me.
Jumping Line is fun, but it suffers from a simplicity of mechanics that means you might not stay hooked for too long. However, you do need to ask yourself one question – would I have been better served buying a bag of chips instead? If you can stave off your hunger long enough, I’d really suggest playing Jumping Line and even if you forget it in a hurry, you’re still supporting an indie developer, and in the end that really ought to be the real goal. Plus, if you demand all your entertainment not support the artists, the basic version is available on Desura absolutely free. 7.5/10.