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There and Back

There and Back indie 3D PC platformerThere and Back is a nightmarish but cute 3D platformer designed and developed by a group of four students from the Vancouver Film School. Although created in full 3D using the Unity engine, the gameplay is inspired by classic side-scrolling titles. However, there’s an original twist to it, adding a layer of puzzle game to it.

The menu scene, where the main character is grabbed by a gloomy and mysterious hand is just the beginning of the surreal adventure of There and Back. The first – unintentional – task is to discover the controls, since there are no in-game instructions. This can be solved by taking a look at the read me file in the project page or, better yet, by using an Xbox 360 PC controller, as the creators recommend.

With the first hurdle out of the way, it’s time to take control of our small boy, who is lost and interestingly dressed as a bear. Platforming plays a big part in the game, but soon we’ll have to use our brain to overcome the challenges that lay ahead. The distinct feature in the game is the nightlight, a cube that allows our bear-child to project a mirror image of himself that is capable of crossing and solid surfaces. Pressing the key again will teleport our character to the place where the mirror image is. It’s not as easy as it looks, since controls work as if reverted, leading to some unexpected and often funny deaths, especially when our actions need to be timed right – just wait to see the ramps. Don’t worry, however, since there are unlimited lives and the checkpoints are very generous.

There are three very different setting to explore and the 10 levels may not seem like much (they’re also fairly short), but the beauty of There and Back is not just running to the end; it’s collecting all the tablets scattered across the levels. A few of them require quite some thinking to collect and are sure to stumble many players.

With its somber yet cute looks, There and Back is a free game recommended for everyone over 8 years old and to just everybody who enjoys quality platformers with a hint of originality.

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