As I dwell more on the events of Dotoyou developed adventure Incredible Mandy, I continually realize more things hidden in its colorful and mysterious world. Dreams have crafted the game’s environments, and the story is told through the use of comic books and a bond shared by a brother and sister. This emotional journey isn’t one that I expected to go on, but by the end, this was one dream of a game that I didn’t want to wake up from.
Incredible Mandy throws players right into its puzzle design. After a charming opening animation, the player must find their way through a strange world as they follow what is to be believed is their younger sister. Navigating this world isn’t easy as progression is obscured by blocked doors, moving platforms, and countless other objects that will hinder your adventure.
However, when looking back on those puzzles after completing the game, I realized that they were just a massive part of the underlying story being told. The game doesn’t use a conventional narrative design to tell its story, although it does wrap up its events in a beautiful package for the player. However, the story is mostly delivered through these environments, along with random collectibles.
The story of Incredible Mandy is relatively emotional, but it’s nothing going to impact every player the same. That said, I enjoyed the story and the emotional beats that it had. There are collectible comic book pages that can be found while exploring, which shows the relationship between the brother and sister and sets up the bond needed to drive home the final moments of the game.
Incredible Mandy is very much a puzzle adventure. Each moment of the game is full of unique puzzles that players will need to find themselves through. Sadly, direction through these puzzles isn’t conveyed completely, which causes some head-scratching moments of gameplay, but through some trial and error, it’s possible to find your way through. Each level introduces new puzzle mechanics with elements like using wind or fire to find your way through.
The essential tool in the game is the character’s sword. This sword is used during every level with multiple different use cases. For starters, you can form as many swords as you wish, stick them in the ground, and create a path of connected swords that can be used as a chain of explosions to trigger an event. The sword’s power extends to other functions in the game, such as controlling a helpful robot or destroying a blocked path. There are many smart ways that the sword comes into play through the game outside of combat, and I appreciated how the power of the sword continuously felt like it was growing.
Outside of puzzles, there is also combat in the game. After each level, players will fight a massive boss that incorporates some use of the sword. In this regard, the game borrows a few elements from Shadow of the Colossus into its gameplay loop. However, the mysterious nature of how to defeat some of these bosses overstays its welcome. It does become more comfortable once you understand how actually to beat them, but each boss does come with a lair of trial and error.
The gameplay loop in Incredible Mandy offers a delicate balance of exploration, puzzles, and bosses. While direction never really improves in the game, you do become used to the game’s way of presenting puzzles and how to get through them after the first few levels. What’s good to mention is that rarely does the game feel repetitive.
Incredible Mandy has an excellent presentation across all of its levels. Each stage has an open design that allows players to see across the level for a glimpse at upcoming puzzles and hazards. This type of layout made everything feel just out of reach and had me anticipating the trials and tribulations that were ahead of me. The deferent themes of the environments also play a role in making the game feel fresh and new during each chapter. While the direction for getting through these chapters still lacks in some parts, I had a good time finding my way to the end.
The sound design in the game offers players a delightful relaxing adventure of piano cords and environment sound effects. It’s atmospheric and provided me with an excellent sense of place in the world the game was trying to build. The boss music is where things become a little more epic in the music department, which made each encounter enjoyable.
The Nintendo Switch offered some exciting ways to navigate through the world of Incredible Mandy. One feature was that aiming a bow and arrow could be controlled using the motion controls on the Switch. However, this did take some getting used to, but I was glad to see a new feature.
Incredible Mandy is a great way to spend an afternoon playing a game that doesn’t test your patience too much with challenging puzzles. The game’s narrative and visual presentation are the fuel of this adventure and made it easy to want to see everything it had to offer. While direction will cause some early confusion, Incredible Mandy is genuinely an incredible adventure.
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