This is a game that’s taken minimalism as a mantra; its aesthetic, audio, controls, and attitude as a whole push for a focus on what you can do in the world, which is not huge but large and challenging enough to provide a lot of enjoyment if puzzle and skill-based platforming appeal to you.

Pixel art

The first point point of judgement for me about any game is the graphics, and these are retro; like really, really simple. This is taking pixel art right back to Commodore 64 levels. I’m actually not a huge fan of the graphics; they’re so utilitarian that there’s really very little artistry to the look; it’s no Fez!

On the other hand the minimal graphics give the game a focused feel: you’re here to solve puzzles and to die, it’s really clear and it fits with everything else, and you really feel the charm of an unhappy face when you screw up – it makes me smile through the frustration.

Chip tunes

The music, again, is simple but nicely paced to urge you on. The effects and overall ambience has that minimalist feel but this time without feeling so raw; more by design. I sat playing for a while with the game muted while taking screenshots and it’s amazing what a huge difference in motivation is made by the lack of sound whilst being challenged.

Cheap controls

The controls are simple too: left, right, invert, interact. And I debated listing “interact” given that you need to hit enter only to teleport, read stuff, or talk to other characters. You do none of these things frequently!

The controls are tight and you know that it’s your fault when you die, though it’s a bit frustrating to hit spikes after the screen changes. To be fair this is certainly by design, and there are rolling movement stages that really push you to hit pace and ability in tandem which can be very rewarding.

Quick death cycle

In a game like this you need to get back into the action after dying; much like Super Meat Boy you pass the challenges through muscle memory as much as anything else and being thrown back in encourages you to try “just one more time”. If I were to “correct” one thing about the game it would be to remove the tiny delay in re-spawn; this is the time that I decide to quit and removing it would change that thought process; learn from SMB!


It’s important to distinguish between SMB’s purely skill-based gaming and VVVVVV’s mix of puzzle elements and skill challenges; VVVVVV’s switched gravity mechanic provides many slower puzzles that require a more Portal-esque mentality to solve and progress, and its interesting companion subsection forces you to consider the actions of an NPC, albeit in a form that you indirectly control.

NPC interactions

It’s almost not worth mentioning the NPC interactions; they’re so few and far between. I’m calling them out simply because they make me smile: they really embrace the general minimalism of the game by hinting at a back story but almost mocking the idea that there’s any credible explanation for their predicament and the context for our gaming. The sense of humour and its subtle, almost dismissive character really appealed to me.

In conclusion…

VVVVVV is a cool indie game, great for a quick blast, it’s got a nice aesthetic which some really nice tunes to keep the pace up and which really helps with getting back into the puzzle you just failed, and fail you will!