VVVVVV is an 8-bit retro style platformer that was first developed for the PC back in 2010, and has now been ported to the PlayStation 4. The story follows the journey of six brave space adventurers, all with names beginning with the letter V, that get transported to another dimension while exploring space.
As the player, you take control of Viridian, who's on a quest to rescue the rest of his crew, Victoria, Vermillion, Violet, Vitellary, and Verdigris, from the depths of another dimension and return them to their spaceship. This is achieved by navigating your way past hundreds of spikes, dodging projectiles, and riding moving platforms to reach precarious locations.
The game itself isn't split into levels - instead, it's one continuous run with many checkpoints scattered around. Each time that you end up dying, you'll return to the last checkpoint that you walked through, enabling you to have another attempt. There are no limited lives, either, as the title simply counts your deaths, granting you more rewards for fewer screw-ups - but it's worth mentioning that we died a heck of a lot. However, dying over 500 times never felt unfair or deterred us from playing; every death felt like a learning experience, getting a little further with each attempt until that section was conquered.
The controls are as simple as can be, but have been used exceptionally well to create challenging and imaginative puzzles. You use the analogue stick or d-pad to move left or right, and use the X button to flip the direction of gravity, so that Viridian is either walking on the floor or on the ceiling. Many of the game's areas have complex puzzles involving a lot of gravity flipping, and the variety grows as you delve further into the release as it introduces teleporters, cables that will automatically switch the gravity when hit, and even tasks you with controlling more than one crew member at once. These elements add a lot of depth to a very simple concept, and keep the game feeling fresh from start to finish.
The title's map can be explored openly with your choices determining which crew member gets saved first. You'l want to explore it as a whole, too, as there are twenty collectibles scattered around the map in various risky locations. Once all twenty have been collected, a secret area is unlocked back at the crews' ship, and a very enjoyable minigame is also unlocked with leaderboards to keep you returning for more.
Once the game has been completed - it'll only take a couple of hours - you'll unlock flip mode, which allows you to play the whole game again only this time upside down - Mr. Topsy Turvy would no doubt be proud. Also unlocked on completion is no death mode, where you're tasked with completing the whole game without dying. We won't even bother commenting on this addition.
The only downsides that we could find with VVVVVV was that the length of the game was rather short - it seems to end just as quickly as it begins, with completion taking only a couple of hours, as mentioned. But don't get us wrong - these couple of hours are well worth the small asking price of £6.49/$7.99, especially when the game's as clever as this. The other small issue that could be addressed is that the brutal difficulty in some specific areas can result in you getting stuck for quite a while, unable to backtrack, leaving you stranded much like the rest of your crew.
Overall, VVVVVV is a very enjoyable and addictive puzzle platformer with enough variety to keep it feeling fresh from start to finish. It's just a shame that the adventure appears to end as quickly as it begins.