App Army Assemble: Ugly - "Can you look yourself in the mirror after playing this puzzle platformer?"

We ask the App Army

App Army Assemble: Ugly - "Can you look yourself in the mirror after playing this puzzle platformer?"

Ugly is a puzzle platformer that ventures into a nobleman's tortured mind to tell a profound story about facing oneself. That all sounds a touch too profound for me, so I decided to hand the game over to our App Army community to get their opinion.

Here's what they said:

Torbjörn Kämblad

Swap or teleporting 2d-platformers have been a staple for iOS games for ages. Ugly tries to give it a shot by adding a layer of graphical fidelity alongside some extra storylines. To me, the gameplay has been done before with a warp/polarized version of the 2-D platformer. The pacing to me is a bit slow in Ugly, and I found the gameplay to be a bit slow. Even though I get a lot of Limbo vibes I found myself getting a bit bored.

Muhammad Khalid Hasan

A distinctive type of puzzle platformer about childhood trauma and abuse.
Story-wise there's not much going on, rather it centralizes more on gameplay and the gameplay relies more on puzzle solving which is often missing in traditional platformer games. The puzzles are hard to catch sometimes and you need to rethink quite often how you can decipher it without getting frustrated.
Likeable visuals all the way around but touch controls can be unresponsive at times, highly recommended to play this with a controller.

Mark Abukoff

I was expecting a simple puzzle /platformer game. What I found was a really thoughtful experience with a story that I cared about. Levels that left me at a loss were helped by the hint feature. While the mirror mechanic is not unheard of, it’s done well here. Better than any others that I’ve played. The soundtrack is impressive and the visuals are very appealing. My only issue with the game is that the onscreen controls have you covering too much of the screen with your fingers. Fortunately, my BackBone controller took care of that. But I also feel that there ought to be a better alternative. Not everyone has or wants to use a controller. But even with that issue, I really enjoyed and recommend this game. Well done!

Robert Maines

Ugly is a puzzle/platformer that uses a mirror mechanic to let your characters explore the mind of a nobleman. Depending on how you place the mirror you can gain access to inaccessible areas and find memories.

The touch controls can be a bit fiddly at times, especially around ladders and doors. The 2D graphics are colourful but the sound is rather muted. There is a help system that comes in handy if you get stuck. I rather enjoyed this game, it offers nothing new but it’s well executed and I’m determined to finish it.

Oksana Ryan

This is an unusual game in which you make your way through a range of levels that you navigate by swapping with your negative self via a shard of mirror. You move up ladders, through doors and down into cellars, moving from bright, colourful surroundings, to dark, gloomy places that you feel hide secrets to be revealed.

The mechanics allow for plenty of thought-provoking manoeuvring, the music suits the game and is pleasant to have low in the background, while the storyline unfolds as you progress. If you get stuck there is a hint you can use to get you started again. Although I haven’t quite finished it yet, I like a brain teaser, and it is something I will be keeping and playing to the end.

Bruno Ramalho

I have to say that this is a very beautiful game. Starting with the soundtrack in the main menu, where you should be wearing your headphones, and just enjoy the music from start to finish. And repeat if you like it as much as I did. But then you get into the game, and we have some elements of platforming here and there, as our character has to explore this mansion (memories?) that is in ruins and everything is broken everywhere, from the walls, the ceiling, mirrors, and toys, these are for sure broken memories, memories that will start coming back while we solve the puzzles that are ahead of us.

And yes, there are multiple puzzles to solve, and the mechanics of solving them is fun. We have a shard that we can place in front of us, or beneath our feet, that can create an alternative inverted self on the opposite side of the shard. This allows us to get to higher places, hidden places behind a wall. This really forces us to think outside the box. But if we are stuck, there is a very helpful question mark that we can press and it shows us where we should be placing the shard next. There is also a butterfly that comes up here and there and it flies in front of us to the place we should be heading next. This is a huge mansion after all, and it's easy to get lost.

The story is sad, and it's about abuse, verbal abuse when you are a child, but very well told. There are also "boss levels", where you have to defeat something or someone, again, solving a puzzle, but this time with the added stress of avoiding being caught while solving the puzzle. The details of the game, sound and graphics-wise, are what got me hooked in the end. The scenery reacts to our passage, paintings that fall when we touch them, the ceiling that falls to the ground when we jump and touch it with our head. Such a beautiful game. This is one we could lose a few hours trying to solve everything and get to the ending. But all the while enjoying the visuals and eerie soundtrack.

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Swapnil Jadhav

Ugly is definitely a masterpiece. Unique 2d puzzle platformer with swapping the clone mechanics. The game is super engaging with innovative mechanics. Salute to the game designer.

Sangeet Shukla

In the puzzle game Ugly, which uses a mirror mechanism, you utilise the surroundings to mirror your actions in the scene and complete tasks to advance the plot, which centres on the character's prior trauma. With its original premise, the game functions perfectly. Personally, I enjoy the hint feature, which provides guidance when you get stuck. Simple 2D graphics are used, but they are incredibly vibrant. Sound effects and a suitable soundtrack fit the unique atmosphere. Playing Ugly Game is an adventure you should not miss.

Diane Close

Ugly is an amazingly beautiful brain-burner puzzle platformer about a horrible subject: verbal and physical abuse. As repellent as is its subject matter, it’s a joy to actually play and gorgeous to boot. Being a mediocre platforming gamer, I was concerned it would be too hard for me, especially since there are no difficulty modifiers. I needn’t have worried. The meat of this game is in the puzzle-solving, rather than in hard-as-nails platforming levels.

You traverse a large mansion using an ingenious mirror-shard mechanic, in order to find and unlock both doors (via discovered keys) and memories (via shard-twin power). Every so many levels there’s a boss to fight, but none require split-second timing so much as innovative thinking to determine and overcome their weaknesses.

The solutions to the puzzles can be brain-burning too. How on earth do I reach that key on the top far edge of this room, while I’m stuck on the floor? Which door does it open? How many times can I reverse-move with my mirror-opposite to get where I need to get? Where should I place the shard this time? Up? Down? Side-to-side? On a step? Yeah, I’m loving this!

Eduard Pandele

Puzzle platformer with an emphasis on visual storytelling, Ugly tells the very dark story of a nobleman who collects his lost memories and tries to heal the traumas of his past; the theme is very well done, the art is charming and the transitions from maturity to childhood and back are impressive.

The core mechanic (create a reflection of the character and manoeuvre both the character and the reflection) is a neat variant of cloning, and the puzzles gradually become smarter and more complex. And yet... the bane of most touchscreen platformers is here, too. The touch controls are awful. If you usually play on your phone with a controller, give Ugly a shot. If not, don't bother - try the PC version instead.

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Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen brings both a love of games and a very formal-sounding journalism qualification to the Pocket Gamer team.