GAME REVIEW | A Tale of Sadness Unveiled In Cutesy "She Remembered Caterpillars"
On the surface, a cute-looking puzzle game can bring joy, not to mention a plethora of aw-uttering sounds escaping from one’s mouth. However, in the blink of an eye, that squishy feeling you have can turn into one of deep heavy crying, thanks in part to its back story unraveling before your very eyes. This experience first came to me when playing the 2011 Xbox 360 title ilomilo, a puzzle game that at first started out adorably, only for it to reveal the sad truth behind the two characters you’ve been controlling. Many years later, that feeling has returned in the form of Jumpsuit Entertainment’s She Remembered Caterpillars.
She Remembered Caterpillars has you going through 40 different levels, as you attempt to bring a bunch of creatures known as Gammies towards their means of escape. Each level features bridges and block ways that only certain Gammies can cross, thereby requiring players to combine them in certain ways so as to solve the puzzles at hand. As you progress upwards through this gauntlet of puzzles, the challenges and tasks get incredibly harder, with more colors and creatures that will keep you wracking your brain while you play.
At first, the game has you playing through and experiencing what these puzzles have to offer. A story is being told, which seems more philosophical rather than a full-fledged tale being told. You take control of these strange Gammies, all of which bring forth a level of cuteness that makes it hard to not want to jump through your TV screen and hug every last one of them! (If I was to describe their appearance, I’d say they’re like less-creepy Pikmin.)
But then, as you dive deeper into the levels, the real heartache begins. You start to learn that this game is a full-fledge interpretation of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. The Gammies are like thoughts and memories that are struggling to come out of this character, with the challenges that unfold a deterrent for someone trying their hardest to remember the simplest of things. And once you reach the end, even with success, you’ll be greeted with something that’s as beautiful as it is soul-crushing.
Gameplay-wise, She Remembered Caterpillars makes a great leap from PC to consoles. Switching between characters using your controller is ridiculously easy, making movements and enacting strategies quite swiftly. Compared to the point-and-click method, this puzzle game shocking works far better on a Nintendo Switch than it did via Steam. It serves as a great example on how to port a puzzle game such as this for consoles, giving way to various others in its genre to be given the opportunity to do just the same.
But wow, does this puzzle game get brutally tough! There are times where I found myself stuck on a level for almost an hour, as I attempted to go through every nook & cranny to get the Gammies to the escape area. Often, a near-solid plan would be pushed to the curb as I came across a bridge I couldn’t cross, resulting in me having to start from square one again. Perhaps this is the intent of Jumpsuit Entertainment, as it mirrors the struggles that someone with dementia have when it comes to accomplishing simple tasks. With that being said, She Remembered Caterpillars knows how make things very frustrating.
Thankfully, the visuals make the experience somewhat more soothing than it should be. With its hand-drawn graphics, what you witness feels like a children’s storybook come to life. Even the worlds, which are often dark and grim, mesh well with the multi-colored characters and challenges that you face off against. Throughout its 7-8 hour runtime, these sights help to make even the roughest of levels feel just a tad more tolerable to take on.
- A deep, beautiful story
- Great hand-drawn visuals
- Loads of challenging levels
- May be too challenging for some
She Remembered Caterpillars is a wonderful puzzle game with an incredibly sad story tagged onto it. When you’re not smiling at the whimsical creatures you’re controlling, you’ll be more than likely trying hard not to sob over the tragic tale that’s being told. Those who have been looking for a spiritual successor to ilomilo will easily find it here in the dark-but-lighthearted adventure within She Remembered Caterpillars.
Promotional consideration provided by Veronica Stodolnik of Stride PR. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.