FireBoy and WaterGirl: The Forest Temple
Ready to bend your brain a little? How about your fingers? FireBoy and WaterGirl: The Forest Temple, from Oslo Albet, is a platformer with a twist. Join the aptly-named WaterGirl and FireBoy as they plumb the depths of the Forest Temple for... diamonds, apparently? Because... well, honestly, when have you ever needed a reason to get diamonds? Now you're just being difficult.
Instead of one hero, in The Forest Temple you've got two, and you'll need to use them both to get through the levels. Control WaterGirl with the [WASD] keys, and direct FireBoy with the [arrow] keys. At the same time. You'll be collecting diamonds as you make your way to the exit in each level; blue diamonds can only be grabbed by WaterGirl, and red ones are reserved for FireBoy. You'll need to get them both safely to their exit doors if you want to progress, which is easier said than done. Both characters are vulnerable to their opposing elements, such as pools of water or lava, and green pools are deadly to both of them. One wrong move and you'll have to restart the level. (Or click the green button at the bottom of the screen to restart manually if you get stuck.)
But there's more than just running and leaping over watery/fiery/green-y death. You'll have to utilize some gold ol' fashioned teamwork, using one character to hold down switches or platforms to open the way for the other, and then finding a way to reunite them both at the end. Some levels simply want you to make your way through as fast as you can. Others will require you to move both heroes simultaneously. And still others need you to collect special items before you can leave. At the end of each, you'll be graded on your performance. (Or lack thereof.) If you like, you can go back and replay older levels to improve your rating, or practice your water and fire skills.
Of course, you could simply conscript someone else into manning the other side of the keyboard for you, but there's probably no quicker way to fall out with someone than to put them in charge of your potential success... or failure. I say this as your friend, dear reader; you wouldn't want me playing this with you. I can do no greater damage to you than when I am trying to help you. Unless you have someone who you think is a good enough friend to put up with being blamed for everything that goes wrong, you'll have to warm up your fingers and get to work.
Analysis: If using both hands to do different tasks at the same time is a challenge for you, you'll probably find The Forest Temple more frustrating than fun. Considering that putting a wrong foot forward could force you to restart the entire level, accidentally nudging FireBoy into a pool of water when you meant to move your watery heroine instead is... displeasing. Admittedly, the game rarely feels as though it's calling on you to do two unreasonably different things at the same time, but still. Years of mindless one-button pushing have rendered by brain a simple pile of mush that responds to bright colours and cheerful music. You're sort of asking a lot for me to be responsible for two characters at once when they both need to be controlled independently.
But is that a failure on my part, or on the game's design? It winds up feeling like a little of both. For the most part, the levels are fairly simple in their design, and the difficulty level winds up coming down to how well your right hand gets along with the left. And of course, people without a QWERTY keyboard are probably going to find this much more difficult than most. Stripping back this mechanic, however, you'll find an enjoyable, if standard, platforming experience. Timing and reflexes are key, and there are a lot of levels to refine your skills on.
Play all the Fireboy and Watergirl games:
If you have the patience and dexterity required to master The Forest Temple's controls, it offers a large number of levels for you to leap, grab, sizzle or fizzle your way through. Whip your hands into finely polished platforming machines, or grab a friend to man the controls with you. While the Forest Temple doesn't offer much new beyond its unusual control scheme, it's a cute and enjoyable experience... when you're not yelling at the screen, that is. Not that I do that. Now, don't you have some diamonds to gather?