Harold (PC) Review
A great looking side scroller that literally trains you to command mortals to do your bidding.
This debut title from Moon Spider Studio has players playing as a guardian angel (in training) that now has to make a total loser of a mortal (Harold) win races so that he can finally graduate. As synopses go that is not bad, especially since everyone in the world secretly (or not so secretly) wants to rule the world.
Even starting this game is a pleasure to the eyes and ears since its beautiful visuals and great soundtrack make you want to spend more time at the menu screen moving between options that plays a great little harp sound. That said, the options are pretty limited at the moment since you can’t adjust your video options almost at all, and the amount of configuration is almost non-existent. This will change in later patches, and it does seem that the devs are listening to their community.
When starting the game, you’re shown some funny animation movies that have a Flash movie look to them, and gets in the right mood to play such a good looking game. There is a steep learning curve to this game, as evidenced by its long tutorial session. It is a good tutorial, but there’s just a lot to remember and all your wits will be needed during the actual races themselves. The tutorial stages have a mobile game sort of feel, with each stage showing a different power and having you practice it, along with stars you can gather to get a high score. But, with sometimes 8 tutorial stages or more per race, it can get old pretty quick.
Once you have done the work, memorized the track, and readied your wits though, the races can be insanely fun. They are definitely complex, and you better have some multi-tasking skills to actually finish the race, let alone come in 3rd like you need to advance to the next level. Not only is it making sure to direct Harold the right way through all these obstacles, but the ability to interfere with your enemies, like sliding the floor out from beneath them, or leading them into an alligator’s mouth is incredibly satisfying. Frustrating though they may be, the races are super fun and competitive even for a single player game.
The only real problem with this whole experience is that is single player only. The races are so great, that online play or at least local coop makes so much sense. I realize that all the racers have only one speed, and the main difference is your interference directly with changing their obstacles or indirectly by affecting Harold, but It just seems like a wasted opportunity. Also, having the tutorial be optional would have been nice, since it takes far too long to get through just to get to the races themselves.
The high grade artistry and soundtrack are the clear highlights of this title. But it doesn’t just rest on its good looks, it has decent gameplay to back it up and it never gets old to strike Harold with lightning to get him in gear. It might be a bit higher than normal at $20, but with this better than average looks it’s worth the pretty penny.