Anybody remember Super Mario Bros.? You were able to move a character around the screen that was consistently affected by gravity. If you managed to drop this character down a pit, you’d lose a life, so it became vital to use platforms to battle gravity’s vile machinations. That’s resulted in an entire genre of games we now know as “platformers,” and that sort of game is especially popular with indie game developers. After the runaway success of Braid in 2008, cranking out platformers with gimmicks like time travel or gravity control attached became an indie standby.
140, the game we’re talking about today, is…wait for it…it’s an indie platformer with a gimmick attached! What’s not attached right now: your jaw, because it just hit the floor. Yes, an indie platformer with a gimmick is here, folks, and even though it’s a console port from a PC indie darling that dates back to 2013, it’s time to hop on board and ride this train all the way to indietown.
In this case you’re a shape that rolls around levels avoiding stuff that kills shapes, like lasers and laser floors. If you touch anything that kills shapes, then it kills you because you’re a shape. You’ll have to start over from the last checkpoint you touched. Keep getting past obstacles and progressing through levels until the game’s over. I pretty much described 90% of indie games right there, so what does 140 do differently?
Well, the biggest difference is how the game sounds compared to your usual platformer. 140’s percussion-heavy soundtrack evolves as you play, eventually becoming an impressive composition that’ll have you bobbing your head like a pigeon with whiplash. It also ties into 140’s gimmick, which is that the game’s various obstacles and challenges are all synced up to the soundtrack.
Those lasers that kill shapes? They’ll toggle on and off to the beat, informing you about when to make your move. Those laser floors? They’ll do the same, so you might have to time your jumps to avoid being on the floor when it’s deadly. There are Mega Man-style disappearing blocks that are tied into the music as well. You get the idea; as you continue playing, the traps and dangers you encounter become more and more deadly, so your dedication to the beat will have to grow as well.
140’s a minimalist game, so its graphics aren’t really anything to write home about, because the letter you’d write would just be a bunch of abstract shapes. It doesn’t look bad, per se, and the style works well with the game’s focus on music over visuals. Naturally, the game’s music is absolutely fantastic. I’m not even joking here, and it’s worth looking past the fact that this is Yet Another Indie Gimmick Platformer just because it sounds amazing.
That’s really what this all comes down to, actually; the actual platforming in 140 isn’t anything special, certainly not after eight years of post-Braid indie platformers doing exactly the same thing, but that music. Wow. Audiophiles take note: this is the game for you.