Spoiler Alert review: This game starts at the end and goes backward from there

At a Glance
  • MEGAFUZZ Spoiler Alert

    PCWorld Rating

    This platformer's neither polished nor long enough to warrant your attention, despite the cute concept.

Dante had it wrong. (Be warned: I'm about to spoil an 800-year-old piece of literature.) In The Divine Comedy Dante tells us there are seven circles of hell, increasing in severity of punishment as you delve deeper. Clearly he missed the special eighth circle of hell for people who spoil stories in any medium, be it books, film, television, or video games.

All that aside, I'm going to spoil the end of Spoiler Alert: You defeat the final boss and find the princess.

Wait, don't get mad! Come back! It's the first scene you'll see in the entire game.

Be kind. Rewind.

Spoiler Alert is a platformer played entirely in reverse. You start at the end, having already beaten the game, and then progress backwards to the first level. Take all your classic platformer tropes and they're most likely represented here, albeit with a twist.

Spoiler Alert

For instance, you're probably accustomed to running from left-to-right across the screen in a Mario-style platformer. In Spoiler Alert you'll instead run right-to-left. Are you a pro at hopping on enemy heads to squash the life out of them? Spoiler Alert has you jumping on heads to bring enemies back to life. You'll also jump into spots where coins used to be in order to replace them,consume fireballs you shot out at enemies, and watch as spikes fly back towards the ceiling they once fell from.

Spoiler Alert is more like a rhythm game than a platformer, to be honest, as you're running at a constant reverse speed and trying to time your jumps to match. It's a trippy take on the genre, and a fantastic concept. In a world drowning in puzzle platformers, Spoiler Alert feels both fresh and creative.

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Unfortunately the game doesn't really manage to live up to its promise. I never like to fault a game for being short, but Spoiler Alert is really damn short. To be fair the game only costs $3, but I managed to complete the entire main campaign plus the ten bonus levels in only forty minutes and I had at least a silver rating on each level. I can guarantee I could get all gold ratings and still come in under an hour of play.

It's not really the length that's at issue. There are other games (The Vanishing of Ethan Carter) I enjoy despite providing a relatively brief experience. The problem with Spoiler Alert is that because of the abbreviated length it feels like the game never gets to explore the intricacies of its concept.

While there are three different worlds for you to traverse, a la Mario, each feels largely the same outside of the theme applied (Forest, Ice, Alien Invasion). The game never gets hard by any means, and in fact the levels seemingly follow no progression at all—there are levels in the last world (first, going by Spoiler Alert's logic) that are as simple as some of the first levels you'll ever play, but then there are others that are leaps more complicated right afterward. I don't feel like the theme of "You've beaten the game and are progressing backwards" is in any way held up by the difficulty across each set of levels and, ultimately, the game.

Spoiler Alert

The art style is also a bit of a turn-off. It has a sort-of roughness to it that smacks of low-budget gaming regardless of whether it was done on purpose. There's a crudeness—almost a GameMaker-esque quality—to it that I would expect from a free web game.

Spoiler Alert does have options for speedrunning and user content, which I expect might extend the lifespan of the game for certain people. However, I don't think it's enough to salvage the short length or turn this into a must-buy, despite the strength of the core concept.

Bottom line

I had brief moments where I enjoyed Spoiler Alert, but there's not enough of it and what is there isn't polished enough to really merit playing. It's a highly creative concept but, ultimately, a gimmick that doesn't quite work as a game.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This platformer's neither polished nor long enough to warrant your attention, despite the cute concept.

    Pros

    • Creative concept
    • Solid soundtrack

    Cons

    • Rough artwork
    • Extremely brief
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