She Remembered Caterpillars Review
There are few types of games that impress me more than a well-crafted puzzle game. Playing them often makes me feel like an audience member at a magic show who’s been asked to participate in an elaborate trick. I can never quite wrap my head around how the trick works (how the developer conceptualizes the puzzle as a whole and then breaks it down into its individual parts) but when the pieces come together, and the trick is complete, there’s a distinct and addicting sense of satisfaction.
In its best moments, She Remembered Caterpillars evokes that same sense of wonder and achievement. Its puzzles are challenging and creative, rarely feeling unfair or illogical, resulting in a deep sense of accomplishment and catharsis. The art design is also unlike any game I can recall, full of playful animations, adorable creatures, and luminescent environments, providing a visually stunning and calming atmosphere that encourages you to take your time to understand the rules it lays out for you.
At its core, She Remembers Caterpillars is a game of pictorial logic puzzles. Each level is a small oddly-shaped island covered in bizarre vegetation, an aesthetic developer Jumpsuit Entertainment calls ‘fungipunk’. You complete the level by guiding “Gammies” – primary-coloured creatures of varying shapes – over colored gates, through colored bridges and towards white landing pads resting at different points on the island.
This is where the game’s rules build on each other. In the first batch of levels, blue-round Gammies can walk over blue bridges, but they only pass through red gates, not blue ones. The opposite is true for the red square Gammies, who can cross red bridges and pass through blue gates, but not red ones. As the game progresses puzzles involve combining and disassembling Gammies to solve new colour-based challenges. For example, purple dome-shaped Gammies, formed by combining the blue round and red square ones, can cross both red and blue bridges, but cannot enter blue or red gates, because they contain both red and blue individual Gammies. The game’s magic tricks get more elaborate as you try to figure out the proper order to combine or disassemble your Gammies so they can be guided to their respective white pads.
“Jumpsuit clearly put a lot of effort and ingenuity to work to create an elegant and challenging experience.”
While the actual puzzle-solving is thoroughly engaging, the game flounders in its paltry attempts to convey a narrative. Much like Braid, where brilliant puzzles were bracketed by esoteric parables that chaffed against the context of the gameplay, Caterpillars’ levels are prefaced by a snippet of dialogue between unnamed characters, each feeling like a small excerpt from different chapters in a single novel. The developer has described the story as being about “love, loss, and holding on”, and a tale about the bond between a parent and their child. While you could probably piece that together from the bits of story the game does offer, it does very little to explain what that story has to do with the Gammies you are manipulating.
It’s this incongruity that ultimately makes She Remembered Caterpillars an experience that, while enjoyable, might not stick with you for very long. There’s no sense of discovery outside of the puzzles themselves, since solving them doesn’t provide any further narrative details, and the writing is too shallow and brief to deliver on the weight and gravitas it’s going for.
Despite my issues with its story, She Remembered Caterpillars is still highly enjoyable. The team at Jumpsuit clearly put a lot of effort and ingenuity to work to create an elegant and challenging experience. While it’s a game you probably won’t go back to once it’s over, puzzle game aficionados will find a lot to like within.
*** PC code provided by the publisher ***
- ‘Fungipunk’ art design is colorful and striking
- Increasing levels of challenge while providing clear rules to work with
- Calming atmosphere
- Forced story elements
- Story and gameplay feel disconnected
- Misses the emotional impact the developer is trying to evoke