Crumple is a brief 2D traversal style, side-scrolling platformer where you play as a cartoon sheet of paper with eyes as you make it from point A to point B across burning paper factory. The controls are simple, but deep. Left and right to move, down to roll into a paper to hit a switch, you can triple jump with the space bar and even glide in mid-air. Gliding will even get you into slots that you wouldn’t be able to get into under normal circumstances. You can also double tap down to crumple yourself into a ball and roll around, then double tap up several times to stand yourself back up. The game is an alpha, a prototype, the start to a game.
The graphics look okay and it certainly has its own style. The sheet of paper is animated to walk and there are two death animations when it catches fire. The first is it trying to flap itself out and the other is the edges burning inward when its gliding and touches a flame. The flames are animated and there are a variety of what look like stones and boxes. The stones could be stacks of paper that are without detail. There are a few other animations like falling debris will land on two giant fires to extinguish them. It shows that effort was put into the game.
Since this is an alpha, there are only a few levels. Getting through them all, I’d say around ten. Each are brief, but from the start, they felt difficult. Each death restarts you at the beginning of each brief level. If you take too long, the smoke gets too thick and you’ll die. There’s no time limit, but seeing the red haze get thicker is a nice indicator. You don’t have to be fast, I was only able to see the haze when I stepped away and came back.
I had difficulty figuring out what to do at the start of the game. There’s no instruction, just an arrow and your character lying flat. After clicking everywhere I realized that this is a keyboard game and I needed to keep tapping up to stand up. Each new ability is unlocked for you on a need to use basis. Need to drop through a floor? Now you can. Push down and press jump to drop through. You couldn’t before. There’s even a way to dash down when you’re in the air.
As I’ve said before, the controls are simple, its just the execution that’s difficult. It feels like a game plagued with issues. The controls are unresponsive to a point that I can jump twice, die and then when I respawn I jump twice. When I move, sometimes it will go the way I want it to, but other times it will go way too far. To correct the problem I thought maybe its the control scheme, so I bound my keyboard keys to my 360 controller and gave that a try. There’s no actual native controller support, but the result was just the same.
With that said, I continued to get to the root of the problem. The real issue was having settings on too high. Crumple is a Flash game and because of that, you can switch the settings to low. That’s right, my beast of a computer with 3.6 gHz dual core, 12 GB of DDR3 RAM couldn’t handle this Flash game. Maybe its my video card. Yet it handles every other Flash game on the highest settings, but not this one. On the lowest settings, the game performed much better. I wouldn’t say perfect, and it was enough to make it through the 20 minutes or less.
There are other issues, such as I could travel faster than the screen could scroll. I was often on the right edge of the screen when I had to go right and the game didn’t scroll itself further to the right to compensate. Having the game in the Flash player just looks cheap. Sure this is an alpha and that can be corrected, but for now, that’s just what it looks like. There are no settings or frills. You acquire all of your skills pretty early, making me wonder where the game can mature from here. More levels in between the abilities? Tougher levels? New skills? I can’t imagine combat since you’re a piece of paper dodging fire while platforming. Perhaps sprinklers? But then you’d get wet as well.
Crumple feels engaging, like a relaxing play through, nothing too challenging since the flames don’t move. Its more or less your own fault for hitting a flame. There’s no sort of addictive fun element here that other platformers have. Its a nice start though, it just needs more of a fun element to it.
I have to say my favorite part was crumpling into a ball and rolling around. There’s a nice effect that zooms in and it lets me see there’s some diversity here to the game play even if its nothing fancy right now. For every action you’ll need to take there are first arrows demonstrating what you need to do, but then later things are marked with colored arrows to remind you cyan means crumple, green means slide under and so on.
As for the sound department, the music is clearly lacking and resorts to a few ambient noises. There are sounds of papers flipping as you make your way through the levels. Its nothing annoying and fits right into the background.
It has the potential to be a good game with all of its mechanics. While the sheet of paper might be creative and unique, it needs more to it. I also think the developers need to warn people in game that if you’re having performance issues, turn the quality down to low. Well they can also have that in game of course. I hope that the beta and full versions don’t have the Flash Player around it with drop menus and all. Thicker lines on the character and backgrounds might help maintain the look between high and low quality settings.