Release Date: November 26, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
With such a stacked lineup of games and new consoles in 2020, it’s tricky to pay attention to some of the more indie titles released. While some of these releases can go under our radar, I’m glad QV was brought to my attention. This charming puzzler does its best to stand out as one of the more focused or inviting experiences within the genre.
QV is a strange name for a game, but even more strange is the protagonist, whose name is pronounced as Quby. Unusual name aside, Quby is your typical cute anime archetype armed with a magical scepter. There’s a bit of an Alice in Wonderland vibe about the whole premise and presentation, but rather than meeting a crazy cat or a mad hatter, Quby ends up befriending Varon, a penguin with an emo fringe. The lore and writing aren’t too fascinating, but the presentation is charming enough to be memorable.
QV is an isometric puzzle platformer that largely focuses on finding the exit. The process of doing so changes up as players go from stage to stage. Even early in the adventure, it’s clear that QV doesn’t necessarily stick to one style of puzzle-solving gimmicks. Quby’s scepter can do various things, so each level is more about making use of whatever gimmicks are presented, most of which are intuitive and self-explanatory.
Puzzle elements can involve linking portal gates, using magical ink to walk on water, hopping on switches, jumping into warp points, and of course, moving lots of cube blocks around. None of these scenarios are taxing, and as the game progresses, both the locations and puzzle designs change up nicely, with themed stages and other platforming systems. Additionally, things pick up once Varon becomes playable, adding a new layer to existing puzzle scenarios. Later on, another buddy characters join in to keep gameplay elements from feeling less repetitive.
What’s a little confusing at first is seeing the “Easy Mode” locked for each level. Thankfully, if players struggle on a puzzle on Normal difficulty, simply attempting the puzzle will unlock the easy version. There are higher difficulty settings too, which provide high replay value with each of these puzzles. More than just a variety in gameplay challenge, the other appeal in QV is its collect-athon element, which unlocks some neat extras such as new outfits for Quby.
The graphical style of QV is rather simple, and the art style is quite familiar. Giving the overall presentation a soft appeal that is easy on the eyes. What shines about the experience most is the soundtrack, as it captures the charm of chiptune music using more modern methods. It doesn’t take long for the infectious bass beats to kick in and get players tapping along. If nothing else captivates you, then at the very least, the music will loop in your head and make you want to commit to the puzzles.
There’s nothing overtly problematic about the experience, as puzzles rarely get frustrating, especially when there are so many difficulty options and the game’s overall vibe being so friendly. Although deliberate, QV’s basic movement can feel cumbersomely sluggish, but this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. Some of the writing and production values do land on the amateurish side, but it all generally comes together nicely with the inclusion of catchy music.
QV is one of those games that ticks all the right boxes for its particular niche. As an isometric puzzle platformer, there’s little else like it at the moment, and so it manages to have an audience even among so many video game releases. It’s a comfortable and well-designed puzzle romp complemented by some genuinely catchy tunes. The general vibe of it is charming and relaxing. It has something for everyone, whether you’re a puzzle fan or simply curious to try something different as a breather between the bigger releases.
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