Words have power and thus it proves in this quirky little puzzle adventure from Below the Game. Haimrik is a scribe and whilst writing his latest book he discovers that by using his own blood as ink he can enter the book and traverse its pages using the powers of words. As Haimrik discovers what it all means, the puzzles become more difficult and frustrating in this quirky platformer.
The story of Haimrik is the classic “Who am I, really?” set against the backdrop of a medieval civil war. The opening stanza which sets the scene describes the Word Warriors and the magic they create through the power of books and specifically the words in those books. Haimrik accidentally discovers he may be a Word Warrior himself then uses the books to defeat the other Word Warriors and get closer to the King in order to stop the Civil War. Will Haimrik succeed and will he find out just why he can manipulate the words in the books like the fabled Word Warriors? Well, you’ll just have to find out.
While there is a story to follow the RPG elements merely facilitate the many puzzles once Haimrik enters the pages of the book. Here paying careful attention to the words that Haimrik walks upon is key to solving the puzzles. It gives a new meaning to the phrase “Choose your words carefully” So selecting “Bucket” and then “Water” will probably help you douse the “Fire” that blocks your way. However, whilst not all the words can be chosen, there are often “red herrings” and sometimes combinations of words and sequences will be needed to complete each page. There are also “battles” with the other Word Warriors which comprise of dragon fights, defeating various enemies in a side-scrolling level and using your wits to use the right combination of words, quickly, in the boss levels. Whilst predominantly 2D, the game has moments of 3D action when ballistics are used to defeat enemies. This comes in the form of a target based portion of some levels. It breaks up the platform 2D environment nicely keeping the game engaging and challenging. Speaking of challenging, it gets very hard. Many levels will need to be attempted on a trial and error basis before you hit on a solution. It can be very frustrating though as often you don’t have much time to find the solution but then, we don’t want it too easy either. Later on, you will need to work with two characters on different platforms to complete levels.
There isn’t really much difficulty in the controls except maybe your own coordination and placement of Haimrik to pick up the words he needs. I often found I was pressing the wrong button, jumping when I meant to pick up a “word” or standing in the wrong place as enemies closed in. Interacting with items you need to push can be slightly frustrating as you need to position yourself specifically to interact. Pressing the wrong button at the wrong time was a constant form of annoyance, throwing an item when I meant to interact and thus having to collect the items all over again, so it’s vital that you concentrate. When the game switches to a ballistic mode, fighting dragons or archers, it can depend on where you stand. Sometimes you will not be able to actually target your enemy if you stand in the wrong place. In others, you might get off a few successful shots. During the side-scrolling portions of the game, again it’s vital to concentrate as you dodge fireballs, pick up arrows and defeat the creature chasing you.
Nicely hand-drawn cartoon graphics bring a childlike feel to the game. The character heads, bigger than the bodies, are quite detailed bringing personality to each character. The graphics are very clearly defined, “words” can be read very clearly. When the game transitions to 3D or side scrolling it’s very smooth. Colours are used very sparingly but when used specifically such as in one late boss battle, it really stands out.
There are no spoken words. The story is told through large text boxes but each character has a specific voice noise to indicate it’s them speaking. Sounds are used sparsely but deliberately, especially where consequences of actions are used.
If I have one criticism it’s this. While there is enough variety for different levels, the music can become so overbearing especially during the battle levels. It’s on a loop and if you don’t finish the level in a reasonable time, you’ll find yourself looking for the mute button more often than not. There are quieter, more relaxed compositions during the story parts but bombastic ones during the puzzles. I got weary of it in the end.
Haimrik is an interesting concept. The word puzzle idea is inspired and very enjoyable. Puzzles do get progressively harder and more complicated. That’s not a bad thing. The boss levels can be extremely frustrating as there is a definite “trial and error” feel to it. The story whilst engaging is just a little bit indulgent and some conversations can be long and unnecessary. You find yourself wishing they’d just let you get to the next puzzle. There is enough variety in the puzzles to keep you interested which is always a good thing. I certainly enjoyed certain elements of the game and others I found frustrating. I would recommend it for the puzzle concept as it’s not your average idea. Very clever in fact.