Okay, let’s establish this right at the forefront: I’m not very good at platforming games. Perhaps that made this more difficult than it should, but even then, on easy difficulty, I found Handsome Games’ Slip to be very fun, but impossibly difficult at times.

Slip forces you to platform by automatically scrolling the screen rapidly; if that’s not enough motivation, a character named Steve is chasing you with a vertical laser, so keep up. The main twist to the usual platforming genre is that, instead of these complex levels with baddies walking around, you must avoid the color-coded murder machines, such as spikes, rays and bombs. Your character is either red or blue, and you left-click to swap colors. Red should only ever touch red things, and blue should only ever touch blue things; if you don’t adhere to these rules, you will explode. Or be stabbed (instakill). Or fall through the floor. Or be zapped. Just make sure you’re the right color, okay?

Blue guys can stand in red spikes because, you know, logic and such.
Blue guys can stand in red spikes because, you know, logic and such.

The majority of the levels are just based on your well-timed color-swapping and jumping. And these parts are very fun. I had a blast trying to figure out the timing for jumps and lasers and such. The simplicity of two colors is very quickly turned into a very challenging requirement, which leads you to button-mashing the mouse button (or controller trigger, if that’s your thing) very rapidly sometimes. You have to choose to swap colors to pick up extra orbs for more points; but doing so makes you more vulnerable to nearby traps, so choose wisely as the orbs do not respawn when you die—they are lost forever if you do not make it to the next checkpoint without dying. I had to make some pretty split-second decisions…I usually failed miserably, too. In the levels were namesake slip zones, kind of akin to Super Mario’s special green pipe areas.

So, the difficulty…sigh. I hate to address a game’s difficulty because it is usually indicative of the fact that I suck at games (which I do), but Slip’s difficulty spikes were incredibly painful. I tried to play at the middle difficulty, Normal, and found the difficulty to be very challenging but still fun. But at the end of every level, there is a sort of “boss mode” which puts you against bots actively trying to send you to your maker. In one instance, I had to jump through the colored rings of two little guys who shot circles of bombs. You have to juggle each set of expanding circles, their different colors, and not fall into spikes or endless pits. I’d like to show you how that went after mentioning that I spent about five or so minutes in the main part of the level, and no more than 20 deaths there:

Notice that "deaths" one? Not cool.
Notice that “deaths” one? Not cool.

The problem here is that the game goes from enjoyably difficult to absolutely grueling and just un-fun. A friend called me during this stint, and all I could do was moan obscenities into the microphone. After forty five minutes, I finally completed it: World 1, Level 3. The spike in difficulty is just wrong and bad. Make a brutal mode and throw those two in it. But for Normal, make it simpler. For Easy, let me do it without the headaches and statements so inappropriate that I fear the UN has placed a marker on me. Just…goodness sake, balance the game. I’m sure lots of people love that difficulty, but there should be some scalability here; if I weren’t responsible for reviewing it, I’d have quit the game then.

The controls are very important here because in such a fast game, the controls must be tight and responsive. And that they were! When I died, I did not blame the controls or tiny input lag, because they’re perfect; I always blamed myself because it was clearly my fault, and not some auxiliary input crap. (If you’ve never experienced the frustrations of poorly designed or bad controls, then I recommend you load up Battlefield 4 in an Xbox 360, or play Rising Storm on an NVIDIA 610. Bad controls suck, and can ruin a great game).

Graphics are fantastic: simple but vivid and beautiful. The very brief cutscene in the beginning of the game which gives the player a “story” is well crafted and sufficient to give us a reason to run (lasers). Billboards and messages scattered throughout the levels are amusing and add character. Sound is also very nice; I’m a big fan of trip hop, downtempo music (commonly referred to as “stoner music” and produced by artists like Pretty Lights and Blue Sky Black Death), and that’s all the soundtrack here is. It’s a nice nightcap, this game and its soothing soundtrack…up until the “boss mode” comes and drags you to Hades and Cerberus.

Slip 04
Your reason for running
Slip 03
The enemy man.


Story in three pictures, part 1.

Overall, with some difficulty tweaking, this is a fantastic game, and you should definitely get it. Available on Steam here.