If you’re looking to put your platforming chops to the test, or if you think you’ve got a solid understanding of rhythm, 140 will put your skills to the test. An indie platformer developed by Carlsen Games, 140 boasts fluid, intuitive game design, stunning use of minimalist graphics, and an atmospheric techno soundtrack that’s way more than just a backdrop. 140 was released in 2013 on Steam, and hit consoles in 2016, published by Double Fun.
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There are several elements that separate 140 from other platformer games, and the first is Carlsen Games’ choice of graphics and art design. You’ll likely see no more than three or four colors on-screen at any given time, making those moments when the beat drops and everything shifts color especially refreshing and encouraging.
Your playable “character” is a square when stationary, a circle when moving, and a triangle when airborne. Pretty much everything else you’ll see in the game is one of those three shapes as well, with “enemies” amounting to moving static fields in the shape of large geometric blocks. Touch one and you’re sent back to the last checkpoint.
That brings up another of our favorite points – the core gameplay and controls are are as simple as they come, and with a minimalist platformer game like 140 that’s what really counts. Rather than trying to establish themselves by cramming their title full of weapons, combat, varying enemy types, or an RPG system, Carlsen Games focused on creating, streamlining, and polishing their game so that its controls and gameplay act elegantly and intuitively. Seconds after booting up the game, it will be made apparent how you’ll play, and you’ll be met with challenges that push you to use the easy controls in increasingly outrageous environments, the difficulty curve spiking only occasionally.
What has to be 140’s crowning achievement, though, is how fully integrated the soundtrack is with the core gameplay. Everything about 140 is rhythmic, and that extends to each and every facet of the game’s world: Movements, puzzles, boss battles, all the way down to the player’s survivability. Walls of static materialize in to crush the player seemingly without warning – but take a step back and you’ll realize that the deadly field phases in and out in time with the snare, rim hit, or synth effect. Listen for the music cues and you’ll be able to avoid it.
At first, this allows for the game to give you an added component to help you plan and time your jumps, dodges, and movements. The first level of 140 looks very unlike other platformers, and while it does play differently than them too, it’s nothing a seasoned gamer couldn’t beat. The soundtrack here serves as a way to effectively check your work, making the basic platformer elements easier.
Get to about mid-game, however, and things start to get a lot harder. The obstacles in your path will become less forgiving, your timing will need to be more precise, and you’ll need to pull off some very risky maneuvers in order to succeed. Thankfully checkpoints are frequent, even in the late game, which is an absolute must in sequences that require such split-second timing and hair-trigger reflexes.
The game does have its share of difficulty spikes, and in the end, it’s challenging you to do two things better: React to visuals, and react to sound. 140 is a game that will subtly improve your rhythmic understanding by forcing you to listen and feel the game during its more brutal segments, making you totally feel like a Jedi when you come through crushing fields and shifting platforms unscathed.
If you’re looking for a challenging run that tests not only your gaming skills but also your music skills, and are looking for a strikingly new experience, definitely give 140 a look.