October 10th, 2010
The clip above quite succinctly demonstrates the core premise of And Yet it Moves, but to put it into words: you’re a crudely-drawn paper man who travels a bizarre mish-mash world of 2D textures that resemble a natural environment, the entire world can be rotated at will left or right, sending the paper man tumbling in the appropriate direction.
The trick to AYIM is the rotation mechanic which steers paper man (and the objects and structures which support him) into areas otherwise out of reach. Such a mechanic could make a platformer like this disorderly, but the levels are smart and well thought out, ensuring that players aren’t ever asked to do anything too extreme. Judging by the credits too, AYIM was heavily playtested during development. What really saves AYIM though is the fragility of paper man and the way momentum isn’t broken by the rotations of the screen. These limitations on the player transform the levels into a series of spatial puzzles. It’s tricky to judge the exact amount of inertia necessary to topple paperman, so you’ll constantly be trying to push the boundaries of what you can do with him. This part of the players behaviour fosters an addictive quality played on by the frequent and rather convenient checkpoints that spur you on for another go.
And Yet It Moves tells narrative through two means, the first is the transition of environments every few levels or so, starting within a cave, leading into the jungle and then into a surreal wonderland. The order of levels also makes sense from a difficulty standpoint as well, with the interiors of a cave providing less bottomless holes and openings than the jungle (with its sky and so on). The surreal wonderland is then an excuse to take the design in a much more crazy and realised direction. The second means is through the gimmicks punctuating the later halves of the levels. These gimmicks include sending a banana through to an angry ape without squashing it, moving yourself and a duplicate through a flipped, symmetrical maze and moving an army of bats through a cramped cavern. Each of these instances take advantage of the rotation mechanics to great effect while adding a nice bit of context to the levels.
The simplistic charm of these interesting elements is also present in the kooky music arrangements, stock image textures and the “bocha-chicka-wock” sound effect punctuating paper man’s walk. And Yet It Moves may be considered short for the few hours it will take you to complete, but it’s not really considering that not a minute is wasted on superfluous fluff. The rotation mechanic teamed with the physics and frailty of paper man and the well-crafted levels create a harmoniously-designed, smart puzzle-platformer that with a suitably trim play length.