On seeing Alike Studio’s latest, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in for more old-school cartoonish adventuring, along the lines of Love You To Bits. But Bring You Home is very different.
This is a much more mobile-friendly outing, infused with puzzle-oriented panel-swiping mechanics found in the likes of Framed. And fortunately, this follow-up is even better than its predecessor.
The story begins with doddering alien Polo, whose bug-like chum is pet-napped by nefarious hooded types who leap through a portal and scarper. Polo sets off in hot pursuit, but trips out of a first floor window and goes splat on the ground below. The end.
Be kind, rewind
Someone up there likes Polo, though, and so the game rewinds and invites you to break Polo’s fall rather than his face. Swipe a panel and barrels are swapped for a trailer of hay; a prod of the play button and Polo survives his leap, before leaping through the portal himself.
What follows is over 40 single-screen slices of surreal, varied puzzling. In each case, you’re treated to Polo coming a cropper. You then figure out how to change the future by adjusting the scene in front of you – perhaps by having Polo encounter different obstacles, and hold different objects when he does so.
Initially, you swipe panels up and down to load new content, but soon you’re also dragging them from side to side, or a combination thereof. Multi-step puzzles then show up, instantly making you wonder how the average time traveller is able to keep track of anything.
Make your own luck
Early on, there is a nagging feeling of trial and error – that you’re playing a guessing game until you luck upon the right solution. But slow down a bit and you realise Bring You Home is – in a manner similar to The Room: Old Sins – all about the details. You play through to see how things react, and then consider what might happen if certain combinations of panels are used. Often, the angle of a path or a cunning twist in logic sees you progress.
Naturally, you’ll still be killed often while figuring out solutions, but even this doesn’t frustrate – and that’s because Bring You Home is packed full of grin-inducing failure animations. At its best, the game echoes a classic Road Runner cartoon, with Polo being entertainingly dispatched until he (unlike a certain coyote) emerges victorious.
So while the mechanics found in Bring You Home aren’t anything new, the execution propels it beyond anything similar. It’s relentlessly imaginative, frequently dazzling, and shakes up the pace often. You’ll one minute find Polo bombing along in a mine cart, and then be faced with traversing a deranged, multi-tentacled blob on a unicycle.
One particularly memorable scene involves a graveyard where you must simultaneously deal with a werewolf, a terrifying kitty, and a zombie hand that grabs whatever’s above for a late-night snack. Another finds Polo in a gallery, becoming a rectangle when running inside of a Mondrian.
The game never lets up, and it’s a jolt when it’s over a few hours later. You’ll want more, go back and run through all the failure animations – and still want more. There can’t be much higher praise than that.