The Life and Repeated Death of a Cat Suit Wearing, Drunken Man-Child.
Game: The Land of Eyas
Developer: Happy Square Productions
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Reviewed on: PC Steam (Review code provided by publisher)
Which way is up? Which way is down? Nobody knows, but my frustration grows! I’m sorry, those last 14 or so words were a total fabrication. I can tell you exactly why my frustration levels are through the roof again… it’s because I foolishly signed myself up to play another indie platformer without a game pad and I guess once again that’s a total noob move on my behalf. If there’s one thing that The Land of Eyas has done right, it’s rekindle my love for the band Sugarcult and one song in particular… “Bouncing my keyboard Off The Walls” – Shush, maybe that’s the Weird Al parody, but I digress.
The Land of Eyas is an extremely mentally challenging puzzle-platformer developed by the guys at Happy Square Productions off the back of a Kickstarter campaign. This is the story of a young boy (called Eyas) in a cat suit, stricken with memory loss of the days and nights before and far away from home. Oddly enough, the Irishman in me can relate to that.
So, the game pretty much kicks off with a small button tutorial and then as I mentioned earlier; Eyas being greeted by a talking tree who has also suffered a similar severe memory loss. Your quest is simple – before the tree can help you find your home, you have to collect Seer Stones to help him look into it’s past. Well it sounds simple, until you realize/start playing the mind-explosion of a game that awaits you.
The Land of Eyas has a very Super Meat Boy and 10 Second Ninja-esque vibe to it, in the sense that they are all side scrolling platformers and you always have to play that level one more time (if you fail or just want to beat your personal best) and die over and over again trying. With that being said, the game takes a very different path that is heavily if not solely based on two dimensions or opposing gravities if you will. There is a horizontal line across each level that represents the center of gravity and Eyas is constantly being pulled towards it – meaning that if you fall below the line, it pulls you up and when you’re above it, it pulls you down. Eyas’ job is to circumnavigate his way through each level using gravity to his advantage and sometimes you will find yourself literally free falling and flinging yourself from one side of the map to the other to complete a level. Once you pass through the first through levels – the game gets table-flipping difficult.
Like 10 Second Ninja, there seems to only be one right way to complete each level in the fastest time possible to get the “Perfect” rating and finding that is not easy. You’ve pretty much gotta’ make every move count or else you’re a dead cat suit wearing man child. As you progress through each level it throws more challenges at you, which is great because it keeps the game fresh and keeps the experience going. There is never a dull moment. You’ll encounter these fancy Seer Stones that the tree needs to cure his hangover and remember where you live… however, 99.9% of these are annoyingly difficult to get and the game is always coming up with new ways to mess with you. Pretty much as soon as you figure out what you’re doing with one thing it throws another obstacle at you. I got fairly decent with the gravity thing but as soon as they starting throwing more and more environmental hazards at me, I completely lost that mastery, my mind and my patience.
Each level is set in a different environment ranging from mystical forestry to grim industrial landscapes. There is a strange beauty to the art style and I can’t quite put my finger on what makes is stands out from the rest, but it just does – It’s really hard to explain, so I’ll let you see it for yourself and make your own judgement.
Another thing to point out is that the music and general ambient noises you hear in The Land of Eyas is incredible – if you’re playing with headphones it can immerse you into the game fairly quickly and it drowns out the constant swearing if you’re bad as the game like I was. The music really sets the pace to the game itself and you’ll find that if you truly are immersed in the game that you’ll be speeding up/slowing down, rushing from here to there and the noise that your character makes when they croak is oddly satisfy…
If you can look passed the rage this game generates, it’s actually quite a lot of fun at times. I had a very different experience to most of the people playing this game with a gamepad because I feel that some of the mechanics (like sprinting) work against your favor. You have to sprint at the press of a button and it’s not an automatic occurrence. Even then, (and somewhat realistically) it takes Eyas time to get from 0 to 60 if you know what I mean. The game has a long way to go to be perfect in my eyes, but if I had to one or two faults they would be the aforementioned sprint issue and the fact that the story itself lacks a require oomph to push you forward and want to see if Eyas actually makes it home not. With all that being said, the game is not bad at all. The unique gameplay/gravity mechanics make the game interesting and as I said before – it’s hard, so you just want to keep playing until you beat that annoying level and gain the satisfaction of doing so.