Damn you snake, damn, damn you, SNAKE!
No I'm not talking about the throaty voiced destroyer of bipedal nuke firing tanks Snake. I'm talking about the quick slithering white pixel pile snakes that are the bane of my life in Terry Cavanagh's excellent free IOS/Android platformer Don't Look Back. Don't Look Back is an incredibly simple game, it takes the basic ideas of side-scrolling and jumping mechanics that we all know and love, gives you a pistol with unlimited ammo and has you run for it.
After an exceptionally brief tutorial you are off on your way along the perilous path set out before you. You may be used to platformers being hard, you may even be used to the near obsession that some of them have with death, but I think the amount of death in this game may surprise you. Why? I hear you ask. Because this game is skull crushingly hard. If it isn't the fast snakes then its the bats or the spiders, if it isn't bats or spiders then its falling spikes and if it isn't falling spikes then its electricity, lava, strange moving boxes or just plain old simple little gravity. This game wants you, dead or dead and it will do it for free.
The real genius though is that this is not a put off. Cavanagh knows its difficult so there is a checkpoint at the start of each new section which means dying never makes you rage quit (if it does you may have serious anger issues) so you can take as long as you need to figure out a section and some of them take awhile because there are invisible platforms. Yeah I know, invisible, that's cool. This difficulty makes the game special because completing a section is incredibly rewarding and makes a nice change from the ease of a platformer like New Super Mario Bros. 2.
Though the premise of the game is simple it really doesn't need to be anything else to have you hooked, in fact Cavanagh seems aware of this and reflects it in the graphics and sound of the game. All of the things on screen appear as either red, white or black which give it a very distinctive look that ties into some of the other games that he has developed in the past. The sound is equally simple and endearing with an atmospheric soundtrack and simple sound effects for things like the gunshots. This game is a true master class in the school of less is more.
I'm sure that some of you will never have heard of Terry Cavanagh and his games but this one is free so there is no reason not to try it, it's truly amazing and makes such a nice change from playing blockbuster after blockbuster with your PS3, Xbox 360 or PC. You have to try this game, you owe it yourselves as gamers, its amazing and once you start playing you, ergh hem, won't look back.