Review: Scarygirl


Scarygirl, meet dragon-machine-thing.

Note: This game was reviewed on the Playstation 3 platform. It is also available on the Xbox 360.

Scarygirl, originally a free-to-play web game, takes you on a journey through a vast set of environments and will make you remember just how much rage old-school platformers can cause.

Scarygirl, the protagonist, mixes platforming and combat with the use of her whip-arm. For transportation, the whip-arm is used to cross gaps by holding the jump button. This lets you to helicopter across and outside of this fundamental reason, it also serves as “jump correction”. The floaty physics of Scarygirl can be forgiven because you can just hold the jump button to perfect an otherwise awkward jump. 

The game relies heavily on its simple combat. That’s not a bad thing, but there are some frustrating parts later on in the game that are sure to provoke yelling and (possibly) throwing things. Sometimes i’s frustrating because of some moments that feel busted, but other times it’s a matter of design; Between a bad checkpoint system and trying to figure out what moves to use against what enemy, I was at wits-end during certain portions of the game.

One of the many pretty environments.

The 21 levels vary in length. Each level has enough of a varied design and theme to keep you intrigued as to what you will come across next. The few water stages, for example, were simply beautiful. The graphics in general are a little on the bland side and don’t pop as much as I had expected, but the neon seaweed was quite mesmerizing. Checkpoints, however, are a different story. Sometimes, they are well placed, but other times they are spread so far apart I wondered why they even bothered. Clearing four waves of incredibly difficult enemies time-after-time just to die on the fifth wave made me want to pull my hair out. Other times I’d be greeted by a checkpoint a few platform jumps later and I’d be greeted by a checkpoint.

The quirky level design, with fun little camera shifts, is something that immediately stood out.  Skipping along through a stage, the level will suddenly shift to a different angle and you just keep on skipping. It may or may not rotate back, but it was little additions like this that made the game different than others in its genre.

By collecting gems in the game, you occasionally come across a weird Octopus shopkeeper where you can buy new moves, equipment and vinyls. The latter is simply a collectible to get a trophy/achievement, and I spent most of my gems on the moves as they unlocked. Most of the equipment didn’t seem to affect gameplay in a significant way.

It's a scaryworld if owls are out during the day.

The single biggest fault Scarygirl has is its grappling mechanic. I am no stranger to whip-across-the-chasm gameplay, but it gets a little frustrating when you release from one point and can’t grasp the next point easily. Wall-climbing is the same; climbing across a wall, jumping over an obstacle, and hitting up on your controller’s d-pad should make you re-grapple the wall. It didn’t all the time, and it was inconsistent things like that which totally killed my joy of strong platforming sections that should otherwise be fun. You can also grapple onto rocks or stunned enemies in order to throw them at targets, but I had the same issue of it not aiming in the direction I had it pointed at.

Couch co-op fans will be pleased. While there is no online play available, you can partner up with a local friend and tackle the levels together. From the little bit of co-op that I played, it didn’t change anything drastically, but it can be fun if you have a significant-other or family member who enjoys platformers.

For people who enjoy a decent platforming experience (especially with an old-school frustration element), and are looking for something new, this game is a perfect addition to your digital library. But casual fans of the genre may steer clear; the grappling and difficulty of certain sections can be a little too much at times.

Pros:

  • great level design and shifts in perspective
  • quite lengthy for a platformer
  • upgrades give you a sense of progression

Cons:

  • bad grapple mechanics (aiming, swinging, wall climbing) can add unneeded frustration
  • inconsistent checkpoint system

Score: 3/5

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Author: Don Parsons View all posts by
Starting out as a founding member of Gamingcore Podcast, Don ventured on to start Gameciety; which began as a podcast, and ended as a blog. Don now handles Vagary.tv's PR work, is part of the reviews staff and has various other little projects he does for the site.