Review: VVVVVV

4:37:05. 5555 flips. 1500 deaths.

That pretty much sums up VVVVVV. This retro platformer uses late-Atari graphics and some handwaving about a spaceship that’s skipped dimensions to fuel hours of exploration.

The basics: As captain of the spaceship, you’re looking to gather your scattered crew by exploring a gradually revealed map. The mechanisms are simple: you flip back and forth between ceiling and floor, resting on platforms before the next round of spikes.

There are lots of spikes. Endless rows of them, with flying obstacles, vanishing platforms, warp stations and rising floors that threaten to crush you. You develop new means of travel as you go; there are thin wires that reverse your momentum and rooms that loop endlessly on themselves.

The game offers inventive variety on a strong central theme. The controls are precise enough that even the countless deaths avoid feeling arbitrary. And the “shiny trinkets” give you ample reason to keep exploring. I collected all of them, even snaking my way through this twisting monstrosity.

It’s a rare game that prompts me to visit every corner, but VVVVVV is a real achievement. If you enjoy platforming at all, I’d recommend it.