My first impression upon reading the brief description of And Yet It Moves (AYIM) before downloading it was: “Eh.” All the reviews I’d read practically made this game out to be divinely inspired, but there I was, reading about a world made of crumpled paper. The only reason I actually went through with it and downloaded the game was that I’d already signed up to review it. So I took the leap and started playing.
Two hours later, I was intently bent over my keyboard, cursing at the computer for letting a paper wad the size of a boulder run me over, trying to figure out the exact velocity I’d have to be at before rotating the world midjump would land me safely on the wall-now-floor. I’d already died approximately 173 times but dammit, I was going to pass this level!
That was the really addicting part of AYIM: I knew that I should be able to beat it. It isn’t one of those games in which you’re mashing buttons to find the only combo that’ll KO your opponent, or where your only hope of winning lies somewhere in the complicated rules of THAC0, saving throws and skill levels. No, AYIM is a game based on the relatively simple rules of Newtonian physics and human biology. All I had to do was walk or jump at the right speed and rotate the world at the right time to land without breaking all my paper bones and I’d win.
As anyone who’s ever taken a physics class knows, there’s nothing simple about it at all. You have to be at just the right speed and angle to not end up splattered on the ground. But it’s that promise of ease, that seductive thought that “I should be able to do this” that kept me going despite dying 173 — crap, make that 174 now — times. Thank god for infinite lives and numerous save points.
Despite the world of AYIM in the first chapter consisting only of a cave and boulders made of crumpled paper, the game actually had a decent amount of personality thanks to the avatar. When I would let him idle for more than 15 seconds, he’d get bored and start fidgeting. Such a little punk, too. He wasn’t just shuffling his feet and looking bored. Oh no. He was slicking back his spiked hair, blowing spit bubbles (of paper) and chucking them at rocks, or checking his shoes for dog poo. There also was a list of feats to accomplish with some rather amusing possibilities. All the regular ones were there — “finish the game without dying,” “beat level 2 with only one complete rotation” — but there also were a few that showcased the creators’ senses of humor. Come on, how could I not love “die every possible way” or “fall through an entire level and die at the end”?
My favorite part of the game, though, was the frustratingly real reactions that large masses had to the world’s rotation. Case in point: After rotating the world 90 degrees to the right, I missed my jump and got smooshed by the boulder I had been trying to get ahead of. When I reappeared at the last save point, the world spun back to the level it was at before I rotated it, causing the damn boulder to roll back the other way and squish me again. So I came back again, same spot, but because of the boulder’s speed when it rolled over me the last time, it bounced off the opposite wall and rolled back over me again! It’s hysterical to me now, but I was practically spitting at my computer then.
Besides all this, however, there really wasn’t much to AYIM. Don’t get me wrong, though; it was a whole lot of fun to play, and I definitely got wrapped up in it. There just wasn’t anything surprising or unique about it. It’s a very good example of a sophisticated puzzle game, the kind my co-workers and I play at the lab when we really don’t want to get back to work. It’s a great way to feel like I’m using my brain while I waste time, something that I honestly look for in a puzzle game.
If you’re in the mood for a good puzzle, give AYIM a try. If you’re old enough to press buttons on a computer, you’re old enough for this game. In fact, I think it would be a great game to give to kids between 5- and 10-years-old because it help them learn more about the natural laws of momentum and directional force. In a comedic way and out of the path of any falling boulders, of course.
Even if you’re a rocket scientist, I still bet you’d have a blast with this game. Just don’t expect to get your ego stroked. If you don’t die at least 10 times in the first 5 minutes, I’ll eat my mouse. Oh! Major nerd points to anyone who can figure out where the title of AYIM comes from. I’ll give you a hint: Scholars haven’t always agreed on the position of the Earth.