Review – Scarygirl

Nathan Jurevicius’ award winning graphic novel is now alive on the PlayStation Network. Is the video game worthy of its award winning title, or did it just scare us off?

Read our review to find out.

 

On the outside, Scarygirl is a great looking game with quite a bit of promise. The story follows a little girl who would look right at home in a Tim Burton movie. The story opens with Scarygirl washing up on a strange peninsula and is now being raised by an intelligent giant octopus. A tree house becomes her home and she starts a search for the man that haunts her dreams. Along her journey she is trained by a masterful rabbit, Bunninguru, that teaches her the ways of combat in this strange world.

The art style and story are the best part of this game, by far. Both stay true to the Scarygirl world. Scarygirl herself is a Burtonesque looking little girl, with goth features and an eye patch.

She's kinda cute

The world she travels through is in 2D sidescrolling fashion, with an occasional 3d feel. You can see the graphic novel style in the level design and through the story telling scenes. The graphics are very well done, with elements that look like they were removed straight from Nathan Jurevicius’ novels. The game is very easy on the eyes and is pleasant to look at. There are seven unique worlds, with three levels per world.

Swinging through the Worlds

Scarygirl gameplay is side scrolling action with platforming and battling. Our little girl has some great moves thanks to her special hook hand. Her battle moves start out basic, with either light or heavy attacks, and become a little more effective once upgraded. You can stun an enemy and then grab them, you can then either pound them into the ground, or use them as a projectile weapon. Taking out the bad guys, with the exception of bosses, is a pretty straightforward affair that can get a little repetitive at times.

At the end of each world you’ll have to face off against a boss. The bosses can be tricky. They have no health meter, and there’s no way of knowing how close you are to beating them. Once you figure out the proper way to defeat them, there’s really no way of knowing how close to death they are.You’ll just have to keep going until they are finished.

Taking on a Boss

The controls for the game are simple, but the interactions with the environment while platforming can be a little frustrating at times. Scarygirl has the ability to grab onto things and swing from point to point, but these points don’t always work as planned. If you miss by just a fraction of an inch, you’ll fall. Not a big deal if there’s solid ground under you, but if there’s nothing but air, fire, or steel spikes, Scarygirl becomes Deadgirl. Checkpoints become your best friend, but when the checkpoints seem miles apart, death does not become her.

Look out below

Scarygirl’s upgrades are a cool feature that adds to the replayability to the game. There’s a feather that, when purchased, gives her the ability to fly farther than she could early on. There are spots early in the game that you could see, but not reach. These areas hold health upgrades in the form of collectible hearts as well as gems. After completing each level you earn a score based on the number of gems collected (each level has a set number of gems), how many lives lost, and how many dark weeds pulled. Your score is then posted to an online leaderboard and you can see how you stack up against others around the world.

For completionists, gathering all of the collectible gems, dark weeds, and hearts adds at least a couple extra hours of game play as you’ll have to back track through the previous levels. Gems are used to purchase upgrades, as well as other collectible vinyls that can be viewed in Scarygirl’s treehouse from the main menu.

Sensei Bunninguru

Most downloadable side-scrolling games now have local co-op thrown in, and Scarygirl is no different. You can have a friend grab a controller and jump in and out at any time. They will play as your trusty mentor Bunninguru, but won’t earn any achievements or be able to upgrade their moves. This is a cool feature if you have a friend drop by, but the camera always focuses on Scarygirl so if you the rabbit gets left behind, he’ll be instantly transported to her side.

Scarygirl is a fun little game, with 6 or so hours of game play (add a couple if you’re a completionist). The art style and graphics are a perfect match to Nathan Jurevicius’ novels and the levels are nicely created and designed. Gameplay can be frustrating though, and fighting can get a little repetitive. Health meters for bosses would be a welcome addition.

Scarygirl is nicely priced at $9.99 on the PlaySation Network and is 1200 MSP on Xbox Live Arcade.

7