Published on March 5th, 2015 | by PsychoSparky0
Harold – Review
Harold is a debut title by Moon Spider Studio, resulting from 4 years of development by a team of young-bloods and veterans within the gaming industry based on the outskirts of sunny Miami. The time and care spent perfecting Harold can be seen from the moment the game begins and you are introduced to some beautifully animated graphics along with a compelling soundtrack of rhythmic tribal drums, singing and some awesome funky slap bass.
The game begins in Guardian school where you are introduced to a class of young angels studying to become protectors of mortal humans. The guardian that you play as, Gabe, is the top of his class however the final challenge to earn his scholarship to archangel academy is to safely guide a mortal human to at least 3rd place in a race against other human runners who are under the watchful eye of Gabe’s class mates. It all seems to easy until Gabe is paired with the least likely of runners….Harold.
The fun now begins as you are introduced to the basic actions that you can control of Harold. The game instantly reminded me of a cross between Sonic the Hedgehog and Pitfall (yes I am that old to remember that one!) as Harold begins running through the jungle and you judge when to make him jump and swing on vines across pits in the ground. The first twist to this game is then revealed as the rings that you collect along the way, giving you the cooly named “puff power” that helps to make Harold sprint past his challengers are also your lives for that race. Should all of the puff power be used then it is unfortunately game over and the race must be restarted.
Once the tutorial of controlling Harold has been passed you then unlock the practice mode whereby your ability as a guardian angel is now extended to manipulate obstacles that are in Harold’s path. There are 10 short stages to complete prior to your first race, each of which are carefully explained to you by your mentor. Using your game controller you can break walls, move platforms, raise ramps and fend off crocodiles so that Harold can make it through. Very similar to the likes of Angry Birds you are rated out of three stars as to how you have performed on each stage and given the option to retry or carry on to the next level. It was amazing how something so simple such as moving a platform using the left stick of the controller would be instantly forgotten once the stage began.
When two moveable platforms were side by side onscreen I found myself trying to move each stick of the controller respectively, even though the right stick did not control a platform and this would send me into a rant as I watched Harold disappear cartoon style into the hole leaving a plume of smoke above him. The pattern of failing simple timed tasks was to continue as Harold met his doom thanks to my lack of co-ordination with the controller throughout the rest of the stages. Thankfully the quickness to reset the stage coupled with the flowing Disneyesque graphics and happy vibes “you don’t want to destroy that controller” soundtrack allowed me to persevere to the end and unlock my first race!
There are six competitors within the race and Harold starts at the back having burst out from the toilet cabin. Utilising your new skills as a guardian angel you now take charge, manipulating the obstacles to your advantage and remembering to make Harold jump and use puff power to make him sprint where needed past the competition. The puff power can be recharged throughout the race by collecting rings and by causing a competitor to fall to their demise by moving the obstacles from their reach. This I found highly amusing although my laughter was many a time ended quickly as I then forgot to move the obstacle back for Harold. There are a few surprises along the way that can help you gain the advantage within the race however I will leave you to figure those out.
Overall Harold is a pleasure to play as it is not similar to something I currently own and the approach is refreshing. The in-game graphics are well created and flow beautifully from the cutscenes, the soundtrack is awesome, the gameplay is frustratingly fun and ultimately the controller response is quick and smooth (there is no blaming lag for killing Harold here!).
Harold is available on Steam for £14.99 and is out now. Enjoy!