If you're like me, you're what people might call "unpleasant" in the morning when they were feeling charitable, and "My face, my face, you bit my face" when... not. People like you and I need to take a lesson from the weird little mechanical spider protagonist fella of this puzzle-platformer and instead spring out of bed with a cheery "Hello Worlds!" Yessir, then we'd be ready for a good, honest day's work of standing on ledges in parallel dimensions, combining worlds, and collecting coins to open floating crayon doors, just like your grandpappy used to do!... no?... well, not mine, but someone's grandpappy, surely?
Each stage consists of several screens placed next to each other, each containing a copy of your protagonist that moves in unison with the others. The goal is simply to reach the exit of each level; move with [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, and open doors with the [spacebar]. Easy-peasy? The problem is that an obstacle in one screen will affect all of them; you won't be able to proceed, for instance, if a wall is in your way in one screen even if the others are clear. You can, however, use this to your advantage; standing on a ledge in one screen will let you reach places that might have previously been too high in others. You can press [C] to overlap all the screens so you can see how to proceed (although you can't move while you're doing this), and holding [V] will rewind a chunk of your time, while [R] will reset the whole level. And of course, you'll get a higher score (and more stars to unlock new levels) if you finish a level as quickly as possible and collect all the coins on screen. And just when you think you've got the hang of things, Hello Worlds! adds new wrinkles as you progress, such as doors that open or close existing screens.
Analysis: Similar to 2009's Continuity, Hello Worlds! was made by a group of computer science students (from University of Washington this time), and represents a new gameplay concept implemented very well, and turns what would otherwise be a mediocre platformer into something interesting and different. Often, simply pressing [C] to get the lay of the land is enough to help you figure out how to tackle the screens. The trick lies in getting your brain and your eyes to cooperate, and that's easier said than done, especially when you start throwing timing and reflexes into the mix. The levels can be challenging, but rarely mind-numbing, and you get that nice warm, fuzzy "Ah-ha!" sensation when you figure out how to proceed and finish one flawlessly.
Which sort of helps make up for how little personality the game has. It's a clever concept, it's implemented well, and you feel satisfied with yourself when you're done, but you're left with a sense of "Well, now what?" I can't help but feel a bigger, bolder design would have made the whole thing much more memorable and "fantastic" instead of just "cool". It wouldn't take much; a protagonist with a personality, or environments that were a bit less bland.
Hello Worlds! is a clever take on the platforming genre, and one I'd love to see taken in new, interesting directions. It offers a satisfying chunk of gameplay that uses just enough mental might to make you relieved you haven't rotted all your brain power away yet with reality programming or most of HBO's summer lineup. The devs have also promised that more updates and levels are forthcoming. So fling wide your front door and loudly proclaim your intentions to take on the world. Just... remember to put on some pants first. You don't want a repeat of last week, do you?