All That Matters
Dad is a word that evokes many feelings, isn't it? Family is another word that divides a room in opinion. Have you seen any recent Mel Gibson movies? Then you know that some fathers will resort to anything, even talking through a beaver hand puppet, to reconnect with spouse and progeny. It's not inconceivable, then, that a dad would also jump over flaming pits, bravely face blasting cannons and risk impalement on jagged spikes to bring everyone back together. All That Matters is the family's reunion.
Thus begins this unique puzzle platform game when a dad, Walter Greer, wakes up to realize his loved ones have drifted apart. What's your part in this? Using the arrows or [WASD] keys to move, you must guide the five family members through deviously-designed obstacle courses while, along the way, collecting as much love (a.k.a. hearts) as possible to reunite the Greer clan. The challenge becomes more arduous because each character has a distinguishing locomotive style that both enhances and limits his or her ability to navigate toward the goal. As a result, cooperation is more than just a nicety, it's requisite.
There are twenty-five standard levels incorporating a liberal variety of obstacles to maneuver through; in some you'll go it solo and, in others, you will need several Greers to finish. To switch between the cast, use the number keys or the old fashioned point-and-click method. As you play, you'll earn dozens of achievements for feats such as surviving adolescence or collecting hearts in bonus levels. Bonus levels? Correct! If that doesn't impress you, then go flaunt your very special game design talents by creating your own version of All That Matters with the level editor then share it with us.
All That Matters' creator, Ali Bati, credits the inspiration for his game to The Company of Myself, Braid, and Limbo which isn't to say you'll find a clone of those games here. Instead, you can see the roots which sprouted the fresh ideas as well as the heart and soul behind his creation. Initially it might seem contrived as the framing of the narrative doesn't naturally jive with the action. But, family doesn't always make sense, does it? Besides, successfully overcoming the challenges really is soooo satisfying. Aspects of this same gameplay can be found in Ali Bati's Jack in the Box as well; nevertheless, All That Matters reaches loftier heights in every respect.
Beyond the greatness of customized and bonus levels, much fun comes from the diverse idiosyncrasies of the game's cast. Old Mr. Greer, as an example, is unlimited by gravity or the normal constraints of movement; that's great when you need to reach a hovering object, right? Yet old men are not particularly responsive to motor controls, either. You might decide to stop while Gramps just keeps on rolling. In any other game, unresponsiveness is a fatal flaw but here it makes perfect sense. Yes, it does become somewhat overwhelming at times. If you have a stubborn stick-to-it-ness, finishing all twenty-five levels is quite doable. Doing so while accumulating every heart on each level, however, will require skill, patience, and serenity (repeat after me: "I will not rage quit!") And you never know what unseen trickery awaits in the user-made levels.
At first you might question my enthusiasm and pass this off as another puzzle platform with an odd premise attached; just give it time and let yourself be drawn in. Consider the unlimited game play then, in a quiet moment of reflection, ponder the poetry of Walter's story as it resonates so deeply with anyone who has loved ones. All That Matters is not only creative and heartfelt, it's endlessly fun. When was the last time you had so much fun with family?