When people think about charming puzzle games, they never assume those puzzle games will also be ruthless in their increasing difficulty.
In comes She Remembered Caterpillars, a heartfelt and cute game with impressive visual puzzles. It illustrates the bond between a parent and child, taking the player through feelings of loss, grief, love, and many other emotions important to relationships that define us. Despite feeling like a simple set of brain teasers, the game also manages to add this impressive story that makes the experience all the more worthwhile.
To craft a story into a puzzle game, each level comes with a snippet of dialogue or a poignant thought that helps build relationships between characters and illustrate their feelings and hardships. While the puzzles themselves can take some time to complete, by the end of the game the player will have a complete narrative. Each snippet set the tone for their respective levels, but all together they become something greater. It’s a clever, beautiful, and immersive way to weave gameplay and story.
The art-style only makes this experience all the better. Cute and functional, the little colored avatars are based off primary colors, combining and deconstructing to travel through each puzzle. If a parent was trying to explain something to their kid, it would be the exact kind of cute and friendly display they’d use. However, the open floating air behind the platforms do give each level an ominous energy. Mixing open space with adorable style fits their parent-child story perfectly.
However, the art-style is also highly accessible. Aware not everyone who plays the game can see colors, each base avatar and the combined versions have a distinct shape, making the game playable for anyone on the color-blind spectrum. The thoughtfulness of the creators is a testament to the overall emotional and well-crafted world of the game.
To add to this world, the music is also atmospheric as heck. It’s soothing, which is perfect for puzzling, but also feels like the kind of music that could be put in eerie levels of Legend of Zelda or Pokemon. Sort of an ominous forest vibe, calming and natural, yet not quite safe and cheery.
The only downside of the music is that if a player gets stuck on one level too long, the repetition can become annoying. However, depending on subjective opinion, you could just blame the player for being slow. As not all puzzle fans are fast though, that can be a bit of a problem.
She Remembered Caterpillars’ biggest problem, though, lies in its controls. As the newest version just came out on Switch, that’s what I personally have been working with. Unfortunately, on the Switch it’s painfully too easy to walk way past platforms with the flick of the thumb. It’s pretty frustrating to have to constantly adjust avatar positions because of this. A simple puzzle can become completely boggled by an avatar walking a bit too far and having to reset all the work you’ve done. Though most of the time it’s just a minor annoyance, it is a near constant one. The movements are simply too sensitive. And though I’d love to blame it on the Switch, we also have Mario Kart and Super Smash without these problems, so the problem is with the way the game reacts to movement.
Another problem can arise, too, in its story. While a clever delivery method, anyone who takes their time with the puzzles may forget the last dialogue piece before reaching the next. That can lead to a lot of disjointed readings and, ultimately, a fractured story. Hopefully people would go back and read each part, but some might just get frustrated and never get the full effect of the story She Remembered Caterpillars tells.
Otherwise, though, the gameplay is fun, clever, and fresh. The way the color rules work are fairly intuitive and each level presents new challenges. As far as puzzle games go, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Ferry puzzles, color puzzles, and others mash together to create this beautiful, unique gem of a game. For only a little over $10, any puzzle lover should definitely pick this up. It may take awhile at times, but it’s worth the work. And for those puzzle masters who dominate each and every level in a pinch? The wholesome story, soft music, and beautiful art that come with it also make for a great experience.