December 28, 2012 by khrisgolder
We’re all a little bit cranky without a good night’s sleep. Jack, In Between’s protagonist, is no different. The game presents the player with a simple objective: help Jack get back his pillow that a beastly creature stole. If only things were so simple, but then the game would be pretty boring. The increasingly challenging obstacles are what make this game so much fun.
The comic book storytelling sequences come off as a bit of an underwhelming afterthought, and the voice acting is muddled. Luckily, a lot of the game’s storytelling is done through concept and backdrops. The setting differences between each room are chaotically warped like someone suffering from a chronic case of insomnia. Are there really two planes of existence, or is it just a distorted sense of reality? The settings can evoke multiple interpretations, but the undeniable focal point is the puzzle platform gameplay.
Work from one side of the room to the other, and dodge every obstacle along the way. There are spikes, crumbling bricks, projectiles, and angry dream soldiers that stand between Jack and his pillow. The real trick to the game is that it operates between two rooms, and the player is required to maneuver Jack in between two planes of existence in order to dodge certain obstacles. In Between moves at a brisk pace, and as soon as one concept is mastered, a new puzzle makes the brain literally think twice about making a decision. The challenge is similar to that of drawing two different pictures simultaneously with each hand. The game eventually adds cloudy blind spots that make plane jumping even more difficult, and even transport portals that force the player to think in yet another dimension. In Between offers some of the most creative puzzling in quite some time.
Controls are limited to jumping, moving, and switching between planes, but the obstacles in each room are what compel the player into thought-provoking combinations of the like. The puzzles are increasingly difficult, and equally rewarding when executed successfully. As far as puzzle games are concerned, In Between ranks among the elite games that bridge ingenuity and entertainment. The strangest choice for gameplay has to do with the omission of any sort of timer. Beating the level will show whether or not the player their score (and if it is their best), but there is no expiration for the main character to reach his pillow. It could have added another degree of difficulty for hardcore puzzlers, but it doesn’t detract from the puzzle solving fun. Some of the final levels in the fifth stage offer some of the game’s most exciting innovations and will rack the brains of the average puzzlers.
The game features a healthy number of puzzles, including some hidden levels unlocked only if the area’s four hard to reach clocks are found. These clocks unlock bonus levels with much harder challenges, and the game features metals and a 100% completion trophy for those who want to finish the game in its entirety.
Presentation – Two austere rooms brought to life by obstacles misleading in their simplicity.
Optimization – Aside from a few questionable snags when it comes to the spring jumps, the puzzling handles with respectable precision.
Ingenuity – The planar jumping and teleportation are just a couple of reasons why In Between is a special puzzler.
Sound – The voiceover during story sequences drowns a bit. The soundtrack is lucid enough to add to the dreamy goal of seeking some shut eye.
Entertainment – High replay value for puzzlers adamant about mastering their times and beating each bonus level.
In Between delivers the overused portal jumping element in an excellent two dimensional format. It manages to incorporate a number of basic obstacles and concepts in a refreshing fashion, wrapping it all in dreary art and innovative design. The number of levels is impressive, and what the game lacks in story makes up in gameplay. In Between is one of the Indie puzzle platform greats.
GamerCheese Final Score: 4.5 out of 5.0