Hands-on with Narcissus - a 2-player same device platformer for iPad

That was my fault

Hands-on with Narcissus - a 2-player same device platformer for iPad
| Narcissus

Narcissus is set into a plinth at the end of the Leftfield Collection alley at Rezzed, the iPad on which it's running sort of bolted into place.

This arrangement allows two people to easily stand on either side to tap through the bouncy, tough platformer, but it gives the game a strange arcade air, like one of the table Space Invaders games you used to see in pubs and cafés.

The aim is simple: you need to get to the end of a series of increasingly difficult platforming levels.

The twist is that two of you are playing at the same time, leaping through asymmetric blocky levels.

Both of you have to get to the end if you want to complete one challenge and move onto the next.

To begin with I'm playing on my own, and it's an exercise in impossibility. I've just been on a train for four hours, downed a vase of awful black coffee in a station eatery, and stumbled into the cavernous NEC.

Narcissus is the first game I land at, and trying to control two characters sprinting along ever-so-slightly different walkways is turning my already mushed brain into soup.

Luckily, I'm joined by another player a few levels in and the game springs to life.

It's co-operative in the purest sense. If I fall down that pit, we're both being pulled back to the start of the game.

Expletives are chuntered, apologies are offered. The game skirts the perfect line between super-hard and painfully addictive. It would be easy to stand at the plinth for a few hours, tapping on the screen to jump at the right time.

It's about learning the levels, figuring out when to jump and when to let your chunky little pixel character simply sprint onto the next platform.

It's also about trusting your partner, and within a few levels it becomes pretty obvious that I'm the weak link in this particular chain.

Our two avatars leave puffing trails of smoke as they tumble through the levels, and it's almost always mine that's last seen plummeting into a gap.

When things go right it's a sight to behold. Twin wakes wrapping around thick lumps of scenery as a pair of monochrome avatars rush from A to B with precision and perfect timing.

Eventually I have to pry myself away from the plinth. Partly because I'm doing so badly, but mainly because I know if I stay any longer I'm going to be stuck there all day.

Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.