With the increase in indie development and Steam sales becoming common place, it’s not very surprising to see games for anywhere between five and twenty dollars. Even most mobile ports fall in that spectrum, some of them absolutely terrible. So when Vicky Saves the Big Dumb World released for $2.19 CDN, I was happy to see that it is actually a working game that’s both frustrating and fun.
You play as Vicky, an orphan who is trying to save the planet from intergalactic demon invaders. She wears glasses, she hurls fireballs, she’s ready to kick some demon ass. It’s a pretty ridiculous concept but it fits right in with the overall style. Although dark and deadly, everything is kind of lighthearted and feels a lot like old web flash games that only had a few levels and bugged out constantly. By keeping the price tag where it is, the developers, Dumbfounded, have found a great way to go back to that era and create something more concrete.
Cheesy sound effects, simple but effective enemy design, and a super floaty jump are all present in VSBDW. It’s a sidescrolling platformer where the goal of each level is to reach the end and kill the boss, which is usually a machine that looks like a security camera. This is typically surrounded by tubes that spawn floating heads which seek you out. While this game is fun and challenging overall, there are two major flaws that stand out: repetitive end-level bosses, and a jump that feels so floaty you’d think you were on something smaller than the moon.
“On the upside, the bulk of the game is fun. You get some great chase levels and others that are a bit more puzzling along with nice changes of scenery between worlds.”
Let’s start with the jump. It just feels wrong… There is no real arc. A solid jump should somewhat mimic our gravity in terms of how it feels to go up, stall just a bit, and come down. You can tweak it a lot, but when you feel weightless it loses any authenticity and just feels fake. The character doesn’t feel like it belongs in that world. Aside from this, the platforming could use just a bit more leniency in where it stops allowing you to jump. It feels like the moment your feet leave the platform, you can’t jump off anymore. The problem with this is that a lot of great platformers let the majority of your feet hang off the edge, letting you jump when it’s just barely too late. This results in many fewer pointless, stressful deaths and generally a happier player.
As for the end-level security camera bosses that turn the game into a bullet hell, I can’t stand them. One or two every now and then would have been fine, but making it such a prominent design is just annoying. Why go from a fun action platformer to this so often? These become even worse when all of a sudden the platforms you’re on will produce spikes a couple seconds after you land on them. Constant movement and luck is what’s going to save you here, but if you slip off an edge or run out of shield when a flaming head hits you, you’re toast.
On the upside, the bulk of the game is fun. You get some great chase levels and others that are a bit more puzzling along with nice changes of scenery between worlds. For two dollars even if you blow through everything in an hour (which you very likely won’t) you’re still getting some amazing value. Eighteen levels and four bonus levels is a pretty decent amount of content if you like platformers, and at two dollars you’re basically donating to the developers so they can maybe make something better next time and charge five dollars instead. It’s great.
Don’t buy Vicky Saves the Big Dumb World expecting some niche masterpiece, or the next indie breakout star. Go into it expecting to play something that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but in all the right ways. It’s a decent game and Dumbfounded did the right thing by keeping the price low, stayin humble but thirsty for success. So if you like platformers, do this team a favour, and skip your coffee one morning and pick this up instead.
***A PC code was provided by the publisher***
- Tough but fair challenges
- Easy on the wallet
- Jump needs work
- Repetitive bosses