This puzzle platformer involves taking on the role of a nobleman haunted by sad memories. Utilizing a mirror image mechanic, we’re tasked with unraveling his intriguing past, dark secrets and all.
While exploring a dilapidated mansion – in which all the reflective surfaces are smashed – a broken mirror shard proves to be invaluable, able to summon a shadowy clone. The clone can pass through walls and traverse gaps, mirroring the actions and movements of our dumpling nobleman. With a press of a button, places with our clone can be switched in an instant, allowing keys to be collected and the passing through of difficult-to-reach doors.
The storyline is understated, told mostly by flashbacks. Throughout the stages, you’ll find crudely scrawled figures on the walls. Lining up our little man and his clone in front of them summons bad memories, giving insight into the past.
And these memories have taken their toll. Should you find yourself stuck, positions can be reset by sucking back on a hefty swig of “grandpas cough medicine”, causing the portly protag to collapse in a drunken stupor before reawakening at the start of the room with some pretty psychedelic effects.
Ugly is anything but, featuring colourful scenery packed with small details and a haunting and ethereal soundtrack. But it has its challenges as it tests our mental skills. I found myself roadblocked at times, a few keys short of a keyring, if you will, bottlenecking progress. Though there is a hint system in the accessibility options, they are a little oblique. Indeed, there were times I had to look up what to do, and the answer was almost always that I hadn’t fully puzzled out the solution between conjuring our mirror man and using it in the right ways. There’s a good balance between simplicity and challenge.
After unlocking each room in an area, a boss creature is summoned. As there are no battle mechanics, these bosses are defeated with strategic use of the mirror buddy. It adds thrills and a bit of tension, and the audio design transitions from haunting vocals to creepy orchestral overtures, so you know you’re in for a bumpy ride. The bosses are varied with different themes, and it keeps the pace interesting while maintaining the light difficulty curve.
The mirror mechanics take a turn in later levels, providing a bit more challenge. In areas where paint splashes the scene, places can be swapped; and ice provides a barrier that the clone cannot pass creating some devilish conundrums with mind bending solutions.
In all, Ugly is a beautiful blend of visual storytelling and puzzle platforming which will keep you busy for more than a few hours. While some solutions require some thinking outside of the box, it’s a refreshing and touching journey that might hit you in the feels with the storytelling.
Team Ugly’s Ugly is out now on all formats. Published by Graffiti Games.