Looking for a breath of fresh air, then Cutouts! Is the game you are looking for. A warm fuzzy challenge of death awaits players in this felt coated world. Invoking a child like response, this action platformer brings enjoyment to players with it’s ease of controls and well crafted game play. This title was developed by Robert J. Louie who is the one man band for Cutouts! Creating all the elements of this game. The love poured into development shows making me even think that 80msp/$1.00 was a little low, even for an Xbox 360 indie download. Cutouts! is made of nine levels of twitchy platforming fun for all ages. Even my 25 year old self had to keep playing just to see World 3 at the cost to a pile of dishes I’ve yet to clean.
What got me playing were the visuals, they will be the lasting impression of Cutouts! With nearly 100% made of felt, playfulness brightly bursts from your screen with colorful fabrics. Even with my fat SD TV the texture of the felt is clearly visible. The art is not detailed, but it is this simplicity that creates the right about of distance from the art. Cutouts! has a subtle beauty that helped to keep me going in tough areas. Hopping on a rock monster across a lane of spikes in a vibrant volcano world is plain enjoyable to stare at. While not feeling obligated to study every detail of the mountain side. This child like art style relieves that pressure of worrying about what is what. With nine levels, Cutouts! Is split into three worlds that have a distinct style. With every world’s visuals reflecting the increased difficulty in game play. World 1 is a gentle lush forest that offers a calm game play experience, after the worlds become more intense and so do the visuals. I don’t wish to spoil, but when the game heats up, the world heats up too. When it becomes an ice queen ready to take your hat at anytime, the game will display it.
What kept me playing was the game play of Cutouts! Oh, my the platforming challenges are amazing for someone’s first game. Controls are supertight with every movement precise enough to land any jump. At no point will the game steal a life because of poor controls, so when death happens, it’s on the player. The three worlds feel like they were set up as; crawl, walk, and run in terms of challenge difficulty. Controls are pretty simple platforming fare, with two buttons for jumping and running. Movement is only possible with the analog stick for the time being. Robert J. Louie has commented on his YouTube posting (youtube.com/watch?v=5_BZQ1XPxAE) about allowing movement with the directional pad at some point. The game’s reward system of Buttons helps the player in learning these controls and taking on challenges. When a hundred Buttons are collected the player earns a life. When a moment occurs when running and jumping is required in a particular way, the game sets up Buttons. Lining up Buttons so that a player cannot help but to go forward in a manner required by the game. Never hand holding, Cutouts! teaches through the context of game play. Always adding lessons as the player overcomes challenges. Some play elements are left unmentioned, in that when a player explores what is possible new discoveries happen. While playing Cutouts! I was able to find a few secrets, changed how I approached a level. This help a lot for adding replay value.
Unlike most games this does not offer a difficulty selection, or saving. These decisions can create a love/hate relationship. Difficulty is still determined by the player, but only the actions one takes. Every level is set up, so an easy route can be taken. Going backwards is always possible, skipping enemies will not have a negative response, and no time limit. Each level has set up obstacles, that when completed in the way intended by the game is a thrill. These obstacle make use of enemy placement, so that multiple timed jumps will take out all in your way. Through progression crazier obstacles are set up from world to world. My only wishes for this game are for an optional save feature and more use of felt. While I love the old school approach, playing from the beginning every boot up can be tedious. In a sitting, the game will save the last world you died in and allow for a starting at the beginning of a world. Also, every level has a checkpoint in the middle to keep players like me from going completely nuts. Felt as a visual ascetic was a great choice, but would have loved if Robert J. Louie were able to make felt part of the game play design. I’m sure that is a really difficult task and he is one guy. If he were to make another game using an organic material than I hope he expands the game play to the context of the visual world. While the visuals are amazing, Louie can put any skin on his game an it would be the same.
Overall I will keep this game on my hard drive for sometime. Going back to feel the tightness and clarity that is lacking in more expensive video games. For the player who love platform games, this is must play. If you stray towards other genre’s of videogames Cutouts! Is still worth the time to try out. When Robert J. Louie develops another game I will download it in a second. If you enjoy this game enough to lay down money a special message is waiting in level 3. Which was all I need to feel like someone cares about this game and the one playing. That is a lot for a buck.
Overall score: 7