The Rezzed Zone at EGX is probably one of the largest collections of indie games you’ll find in Europe at any one time. Britain’s biggest gaming show likes to support the smaller players, and Rezzed gives a platform to many of them; from seasoned industry vets all the way through to enthusiasts showing off their very first game. It is a strange mix of games that emerges from these minds with some being new riffs on classic genres, some being entirely original concepts, and a few that just weren’t very good.
Theo and Lizzy is one of those truly rare titles that, on the surface at least, looks like it shouldn’t be all that great. At its most basic, this is an infinite running game where you flip from floor to ceiling in order to advance and overcome obstacles. A little bit like the recent Rayman games with some gravity switches thrown in. The storyline is pretty basic too; there’s a boy and a girl, one lives on the floor and one on the ceiling, these differences make their eventual love tabboo and Theo must run after his love, Lizzy, when things inevitably go wrong.
So far, fairly standard (also reminiscent of a Kirsten Dunst movie from the mid-2000s). However, sitting down to play Theo and Lizzy you’re quickly reminded that a great team and a solid concept can produce just amazing results, and then you’ll look up and realize twenty minutes has just passed you by and you haven’t stopped playing once.
It’s a multitude of little touches that helps make Theo and Lizzy great. The central mechanics, though simple, are well implemented and the controls are solid. More abilities are added throughout the game to help keep the action from getting stale, and the level design is a good balance of challenge and reward. It’s usually easy to see what you need to do, but doing it is hard enough that you get the buzz of an accomplishment when you manage it. Of course, it helps that all the Theo’s you managed to kill will stare at you until you succeed (those accusing Xs man, those damn accusing Xs).
Only the first few levels of the game were available at EGX, but eventually there are seven full worlds planned, each with ten levels to explore. The simple but colourful art style leaves me pretty keen to see these worlds, and whether the unique charm can be repeated over such a wide range. Talking to the team it seems like they’ve still got ideas to build on, particularly with new and potentially devious hazards for Theo to overcome.
Finally, a feature that was on show at EGX but not originally planned for the game warrants special mention. Namely, multiplayer. Up to four players can race each other to complete a level as fast as possible, competing to get through without the others getting in their way and being able to laugh as your opponents fail. Again, this is something really basic in its concept but addictively fun to play.
I was really impressed by Theo and Lizzy in my short time with it. It’s a game that just does a lot of things right and judging by the team and Butcherlabs Twitter feed, I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
Theo and Lizzy is slated for release in Q1 2016 on Steam, with consoles to follow.
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