Developed By: Ange and Aurélien Potier
Published By: Fingerlab
Category: Art Piece / Platformer
Release Date: 10.31.2019
Yuri is a momentum-based platformer in which you are riding on your skateboard bed through a mystical forest filled with ferns and insects that are much larger than you are. Yes, this is a weird one. Embark on this journey through a dreamland where you will uncover secrets and pass through worlds of quite the variety. This adventure of enlightenment is filled with tons of obstacles to pass through, but be warned, this isn’t an easy trek through an art game. You will fall to your doom several times, but that is just part of the voyage.
The story here is incredibly hard to decipher as there is no dialogue (outside of Yuri’s grunts) and you are just working through these mystifying environments or working through random house-based levels. You can kind of tell through environmental story-telling that this is some sort of dream world, as you are literally riding on top of a bed, and you are much smaller than you should be, but beyond that you pretty much have to roll with it and continue on until more comes to light.
As a momentum-based platformer you will have to keep track more closely of where you are and how fast you are going as you move up and past platforms and obstacles. Speed is the key, at times, and you will need to make sure you have enough of it to reach certain heights. This is both a blessing and a curse. As such, you will need to learn the physics of this game specifically before being able to traverse the levels with ease. There is a good bit of learning to it, as you pitch yourself across gaps and through hordes of insects to try to progress. Deaths are frequent. And it can be frustrating as a lot of those early deaths are just due to mistiming a jump or gap. The design definitely doesn’t help in this portion. Leaps of faith are common, and you will need to make on the fly decisions often where you don’t know for sure if you will be hitting ground. You also have so many different types of platforms you will be working through that it just extends the amount of time it takes to settle in. From squirming ferns, to the backs of insects, to water rides and underwater excursions you have such a variety that it gets hard to always make sense of what the game wants from you, unfortunately.
As mentioned, each level takes a bit of a different design decision to keep things fresh. This was appreciated as the platforming, though tough to master, isn’t all that spectacular or fun. You are spending most of your time fighting the jumping and squeezing past whatever is in your way. So, being able to get a break from certain things is good. There are water levels with breathing mechanics, house levels with flying, and a majority of jungle levels where you have each based on an insect or creature. The frog level has you leaping on the backs of frogs to move through water-filled levels, and a spider level will keep you good and frustrated with death after death, but all in all the variety and imagination used for each level is very well done. I will say though, the ever-changing mechanics are a pain even outside of just the changes in scenery or theme. Fundamental things that the game teaches you at times are changed on you at a whim, which is one of the biggest no-no’s in gaming for me. For example, in the early levels you are taught you can jump on the backs of flies, dragonflies, and other bugs. This is done to help in platforming, as well as a way to avoid the bug bouncing you back the way you came. However, when you reach that god-forsaken spider level you learn very quickly that for some reason you can no longer touch the spiders at all, or an immediate death will occur. Considering this level is also filled with tight spaces it makes for an excruciating experience and is one I was so happy to be past. To be fair, you can jump on some spiders’ backs, but only some of them — most kill you.
Beyond the rough design choices as a platformer, the game does have some nice design for secrets. Most of the places you are traversing are dark spaces filled with enemies where you can only get a black profile of whatever is around you. This allows for hiding Easter eggs and alternate routing an easy venture. Thus, you are rewarded for checking around the environment, and although they are rare, it is usually worth checking anyways. This is where you get a closer look into what might be going on, and although you might be expecting some sort of clarity, you usually will just have more questions. Regardless, they are fun portions of the game I was glad I discovered.
The art is simplistic and reminds me a bit of a combination of notebook doodles combined with dark and brooding Limbo-esque levels. Although the art is aesthetically pleasing, the real deal here is in the soundtrack. The music pairs well with the weird journey you are on, and atmospheric tunes make this game much more enjoyable. I know of several times where I was getting mad at a platform that was tricky to reach and would just sit back for a minute, contemplating smashing my controller, but instead I listened to the music and was soothed. Thank you to the developers for saving me the price of a new Pro Controller with your soft, sweet melodies.
Overall, Yuri is a poor platformer. You don’t stay stationary on moving objects and must try to keep your balance, gaps and design are tricky and often are the cause of your death, and the character doesn’t ever really feel like he is under your control. However, for those people that live for the weird, for the dark and brooding, for the hidden secrets and story-telling that comes out as a piece of art, then this might be something you want to experience anyways. Yuri really twists your imagination and kept me wondering what could possibly pop out of the bog next. Interesting art and a top-notch soundtrack bring it home as an experience that could bring some enjoyment to those looking to live in the art, rather than those looking for the next Mario.
Buy Now – $13.99
*The Switch Effect was provided a code for this game*