Co-op enjoyment and single player nightmare.
Ibb & Obb, from Sparpweed, has been around for a while now, making its debut first on a home console before making its way onto Steam for PC gamers to enjoy. It is a puzzle platformer with an overwhelming cuteness and chilling soundtrack that was designed from the ground up to be a two player co-op experience. But that doesn’t mean that gamers who yearn for an unbelievably difficult platforming challenge can’t approach this game alone…
There is a deceptive simplicity to Ibb & Obb that may well catch some gamers unaware. The player takes control of both cute characters and start making their way from left to right by running and jumping, overcoming obstacles to progress. Very quickly, a sparkly section of ground will be discovered that gives rise to the games most interesting, and devious, mechanic. Passing through this section of floor will have the character arrive on the inverted side of the level. Take both characters through and carry on upside down, remembering that gravity is also inverted. On one side there are spiky beasts that will kill the characters and result in returning to a checkpoint. On the other side, the spiky beasts are simple blobs that can be destroyed.
Progression becomes difficult quite quickly, with the player having to work out which character to have on which side, colored gates which only allow either Ibb or Obb through, and the gates between the two worlds themselves being used as a tool to overcome obstacles. The layout of the levels is quite imaginative and before long a single player will not only find their fingers turning to spaghetti, but their mind turning to mush.
Playing alone will involve controlling two simple sets of keys at the same time, one set with each hand, or using two controller sticks independently if a gamepad is involved. It is a massive task for the single player, providing a mighty challenge to the most seasoned gamer. Precision jumping, thinking outside the box and the simple yet fiendishly difficult task of working both hands separately will result in many a gamer breaking down in tears.
However, Ibb & Obb was never meant to be played solo. Local play with a friend is the most obvious way to approach this platformer, but playing online is also a possibility thanks to the very reasonably priced Best Friends Forever double pack that includes a code to send to a friend. With two players, things become a lot more amenable.
The puzzles are still taxing with two players, and both players will need to be fairly accomplished when it comes to platforming to progress. But the game is much more about the fun and enjoyment of working things out together. Communication is more than essential for progression, which is why playing locally is the ideal set up. However, the game cleverly allows the player to mark routes on the screen for a non-local player to view as a soundless suggestion of solutions.
Ibb & Obb oozes charm, which goes a long way to why the game is so enjoyable. The crisp yet simple visuals leave the challenge to gameplay rather than interpretation, and are incredibly pleasing to the eye. Even the soundtrack, which is more relaxing than a game this difficult warrants, amplifies the charm and encourages the player to return for more.
Ibb & Obb is an incredibly accomplished co-op game that offers a high level of challenge and accomplishment. It is also a punishing single player game that will really reveal your gaming prowess. Ibb & Obb may be a touch on the short side, and it can test friendships to the limits, but it is so satisfying when things go well.