Developed in his downtime at Limbo developer Playdead, Jeppe Carlsen’s 140 is a psychedelic assault on the senses. Against an energetic, electronic soundtrack, this minimalistic platformer presents a rhythmic and sensory experience like no other, resulting in a game that basks in synesthesia.
It is a game that revels in its own simplicity, the player in control of an avatar that freely morphs between geometric shapes as it jumps and moves around the abstract world that it has been placed in.
Your exploration is made all the more captivating thanks to the world pulsating around you, the player constantly challenged to overcome hazards that move in time to the beat. That could see you face static blocks that threaten to deny your existence or cubes that shrink and expand in pace with the rhythmic backdrop to this newfound adventure.
These platforming perils are well structured and while there is a relative ease as you begin, 140 doesn’t shy away from catching players off guard by suddenly introducing more unpredictable puzzle elements which mean that your concentration will rarely ever slip.
It is unassuming spherical orbs that the player hunts for in their quest, their successful collection increasingly layering the entrancing musical track that will eventually resonate in your mind. But, as the audiovisual sensation daringly reaches fever pitch, you are soon thrust into expertly executed boss battles that continue to put your rhythmic awareness and reaction speed to the test. These amount to the game’s standout moments – conceived with near perfection and joyously satisfying to conquer.
Where 140 succeeds in combining meticulous puzzle design with an unforgettable audiovisual presentation, it’s dishearteningly over all too quickly as it starts to surefootedly find its groove. That we’re left wanting more can surely be seen as a positive critique, but, regardless of the game’s triumphs, such brevity can make this feel more like a proof of concept.
There can be no question that the hour that you spend with 140 will be a memorable one. It demonstrates that even minimalist ideas can achieve excellence and that even a geometric shape can become a hero.
Version Tested: Wii U
Review copy provided by Double Fine Productions