Joe is concerned, and that might just be an underreaction. He's been programmed with a disease called I.H.T.M.O.I.D. ("I have to move or I'll die") by a sadistic game dev narrator who has trapped him in a set of nineteen fiendish puzzle and trap-filled stages, and who won't stop taunting him to boot. It'll take all your platforming talents as well as your brains to get Concerned Joe out of this mess. Featuring fantastic pixel art and design by Xelu and adroit programming by 4ur Entertainment, Concerned Joe is a high difficulty game that provides aesthetic and narrative rewards that are more than worth the effort.
Running and jumping and all that fun stuff are accomplished with the [arrow] keys, and as far as the first play through goes, that's about all you need to know. [M] mutes, [P] pauses, [R] resets (ie kills you), and hitting [Esc] or [backspace] twice takes you to the main menu.
As the disease's name makes clear, you have to move... or you'll die. And unfortunately for Joe, moving very specifically means moving horizontally on tiles. Jumping and moving through the air apparently doesn't qualify as movement. A green tile with a plus sign on it will fully restore your health, whereas white tiles will stop health regen, and red X tiles will kill you outright. There are also tiles you help you jump and many other surprises in store, if you make it that far.
Analysis: Some levels require clever thinking, others require hair trigger platforming skills, and still others require a blend of both. Players with slower computers may have difficulty with some of the levels due to their need for both speed and perfection. If you have an older machine, or even if you don't, you might find that keeping tabs and other programs to a minimum makes the game much less frustrating. Concerned Joe absolutely delights in tricking the player, and the game abounds with traps and gotchas that are designed to be found through trial and error, until the game has you so paranoid that you start looking for what would be the stupidest move to make—and then try that first.
The game includes three bonus mini-games that test your stamina at three aspects of the main game: climbing the sticky blocks, maneuvering around moving walkway blocks, and avoiding red death blocks. You can submit your high scores to a table. The main game also has replay value thanks to certain things unlocked by its ending, although unfortunately getting more specific would ruin it.
Portal codified a new genre of game: the narrator who wants to kill you. Concerned Joe's enemy narrator is its strongest asset. Players who mute the game won't know what they're missing. The combination of the superb voice acting and the alternately hilarious and infuriating taunts combine to spur the player on no matter how many times Joe dies. While hearing "Hey grandma, I need you to beat this level for me" when you die just pixels away from safety might set your blood to boiling, the narrator is also the source of some delightful or just plain absurd quips. This can defuse the tension of repeated failures, because cracking a smile helps remind you that it's just a game after all. While the game flirts a little with the offensive ("Only real men can play this stage. If you're a woman you'll never make it."), those lines actually serve to highlight that the narrator himself is a bit of a loser, something that becomes more evident as you approach the ending. Without spoiling it, it's a twist ending that would only be a twist to someone well-versed in the Portalesque tradition of enemy narrator games. How's that for meta?