Review: Where is my Heart? (PC)

whereismyheartcover

Where is my Heart?
Publisher: Die Gute Fabrik
Developer: Schulenburg Software
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Release Date: 05/28/2014

Now this is interesting. Where is my Heart? was originally a mini over on the PlayStation store. It’s pretty rare to come across an indie game that was ported to PC rather than the other way around. WIMH seems like the kind of game that would be an indie darling to boot. Anyway, let’s get down to business.

There is a simple plot to this game, but you’re going to have to rely on nothing but art to get you there. It starts off with some wood spirits or something coming out of a big tree. They get up to mischief in the form of collecting some nearby floating hearts. These hearts are black, and when grabbed go into the giant tree. The tree apparently gets sick or something from this. Next thing you know, the world is shattered and fit back together like a broken jigsaw puzzle. The naughty little spirits start running around grabbing good hearts in order to find their giant tree and restore the world. Or something like that anyway.

It’s just the one mode in this game, and everything that happens is seen in real time. There’s no exposition or text to tell you what’s going on. This is clearly done for artistic reasons, but it’s sure to leave some people scratching their heads. The game is basically twenty-six levels that will take you around two hours to beat. It definitely feels like a Mini in that regard.

whereismyheart1The visual style of WIMH wouldn’t be all that unique from a first. It uses simple character designs, lots of pixels, and simple shapes. There’s little animation, and not a whole lot going on screen. However, the game’s big gameplay hook serves to liven up the presentation quite a bit as well. With the world fragmented, you must move the spirits between different panels. Even if these panels are touching, the might not actually connect. What this means is you might move to the right of one panel and come out on the left side of the panel below you rather than the one to your right. Your spirits will often have their head in one panel, and their body in another. It’s a trip for the brain let me tell you. I’m glad the game isn’t longer in a way because the more complicated levels where straining my eyes.

You can’t get more old school than this game in terms of the aural presentation. Midi music combined with tinny effects is all the sound you’re going to get. It’s nice enough to listen to once in a while, but it’s not good enough to hold your interest. It’s kind of generic at best. You wouldn’t be blamed for putting some music on when you play this game.

The controls for this game are quite simple. You simply use the arrow keys to move, the space bar to jump, and the D button to switch between your three spirits. The A and S buttons are also used when one of your sprites transforms, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

whereismyheart2Your goal in each level is simply to get all three of your spirits to the exit. The trick is that the broken up world makes such a relatively simple task into a potential nightmare. There are pits, spikes, and (the ultimate nemesis) water to deal with. If a spirit dies, it merely comes back a few seconds later. That might not seem too bad, but it also means you could potentially have to move everyone back to the start in order to perform the series of actions required to get to the end.

Progressions is usually halted by a couple of different things. There are invisible blocks that can’t be stepped on, and solid blocks that block your way. Both are dispatched by performing downward jump on special blocks throughout each level. These special blocks usually require you to use a specific character. You’ll have to figure out how to get them there. In this case, it helps that the spirits can use each other like ladders let me tell you.

Each of the three spirits has the ability to transform. The brown sprite turns into a deer of sorts that can double jump. In addition, the other two spirits will turn into sprites that follow him around. The orange spirit can turn into what looks like a marshmallow with wings. However, her ability is no joke. She can rotate the level by pressing A and S. This allows new paths to be opened, and could lead you to the end. By jumping up and using this power, she can rotate the world while remaining stationary. This allows her to instantly teleport to a different location. The black spirit turns into the “bat king”. When in this mode, he can sense special platforms that only he can use. On any given level, you’ll have to use one, two or all three of these transformations in order to reach the exit.

whereismyheart3The game isn’t too hard really. The big problems come simply from being able to take the leap of faith required to find a new path. The most challenging bits come when you need to use the aforementioned marshmallow. It can be real tricky to figure out where you need to stand whilst rotating the panels.

If you’ve played this game before, there isn’t reason to try the PC version. A couple of spots have seen minor alterations, but this is the same game you’ve already played. It’s also a dollar more expensive, which is odd. It was honestly overpriced as a Mini, and is still overpriced on PC. Interested players should probably just wait for a sale.

Short Attention Span Summary

diehardjack1-150x150WIMH is an interesting puzzle platformer that has some interesting ideas and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The price point and short length will deter many. However, it’s probably something that puzzle platformer enthusiasts will find some enjoyment in. I would recommend it to fans of the genre, at least when it goes on sale.

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