Disclaimer: I received a copy of Him & Her from publisher QUByte Interactive for #IndieSelect. The game was given and received without promise or expectation of a positive review, only that the game be played and that experience be shared through social media channels. All words and pictures in this article, unless otherwise specified are my own and from my own playthrough.
The premise in Him & Her is pretty simple. You play as Him, and you have to get to Her, then you progress to the next stage. The challenge here is that after the first couple of stages, Her is hidden somewhere in the playable world. Think about how Meat Boy needs to reach Bandage Girl to progress to the next level. It is like that. But there is more to this game than a vain attempt to recreate Super Meat Boy because Him & Her is not here to do that mainly because there is no timer. If you throw in a bit of and yet it moves, you are getting closer to what this game has to offer.
This is Him & Her:
In Him & Her you are able to manipulate the environment by rotating the playable world, but only while walking onto another surface. When you run at a wall, the world rotates so that that wall is now the ground. You are able to bypass this world rotation by jumping off of a surface to another, platforming if you will. And really, the mechanic used to rotate the world is my only gripe with the game as I feel that the action of the rotation is too snappy. If there was a way to smooth out the rotation, I think it would feel better, to me at least this is part of where the challenge comes in, as well as being able to cheat some of the later stages as well. In two stages, in particular, I was able to jump off of the ledge I was standing on and in the process of falling, I came into contact with Her, thereby finishing the stage and bypassing a lot of puzzle elements. I would be surprised if this had not already been taken into account when the game was being developed and just a shortcut of sorts.
However, shortcuts are not always accessible or possibly worked into every stage, so problem-solving, noticing environmental cues like the branches of a tree just barely visible at the bottom of the screen indicating a safe place to land, and being able to remember what areas of the stage look like when rotated while off-screen are important skills that you learn and develop as you progress through the game. Him & Her does do a very good job of introducing additional elements to the stages so that you do not feel that you are solving repackaged puzzles for the 20th time. By about 1/4 of the way through the 68 stages, the game introduces the player to insta-death spikes, swinging platforms (the swing depends on the rotation of the world), transportation portals, and switches that turn on/off platforming blocks, some of which appear off-screen and may not be 100% beneficial in all cases. And as is the case with any puzzle platformer, I have run into a mix of difficult puzzles that take me 10+ tries to figure out, followed by a stage that I am able to complete in fewer than 30 seconds on my first attempt. Progression was going along nicely.
Or at least as far as Stage 19, which was the wall that I hit, and hit it hard I did.
|Now These Switches, They Do What Exactly?|
Him & Her has two difficulty settings, Easy and Hard, so when I slammed into Stage 19 on Hard, I decided to give the game a go playing on Easy to see if there was something I was missing. Well, Stage 19 on Easy was just as difficult, and honestly, playing through the 18 earlier stages, I was not able to discern any differences in difficulty. After over a cumulative hour playing Stage 19 on both Easy and Hard, I had to stop. I felt that I was not getting anywhere productive and that I was retrying the same actions over and over, hoping for some kind of a different result, or I would miss a jump, or I would get too close to the corner of a platform causing it to rotate me into a field of spikes. The frustration was taking over and the game was ceasing to be fun.
Having now played Him & Her for a couple of hours, I can say that this is a fun game with an easy to understand primary mechanic (world rotation) and with there being 68 playable stages, if I ever make it past Stage 19. And for $0.99 (currently on sale for $0.49), there are a lot worse ways to spend less than $1.00, this is just one of the better ways. Or at least, I think so.