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Created by one of the designers of the mesmerizing and atmospheric Limbo, the pint-sized 140 strikes a much different image. Gone are the gloomy, shadow-centric backdrops and the eerie happenings, replaced by vivid pixel graphics and thumping electronic beats, which sync up well with the rhythmic obstacles and platform movements in the world of this ultra-minimalist side-scroller. Yet despite the many differences, 140 is very much cut from the same cloth as its pseudo-predecessor, as both drop you into an alluring world without a trace of explanation, yet impart their rules and mechanics with ease. And neither lingers for longer than is needed.
In the case of 140, that's only about an hour. The rhythm-tinged platformer keeps things short and sweet with three worlds to clear, and likewise merely a trio of commands: left, right, and jump. As a small square in an environment comprised of simple shapes and architecture, you must overcome the timing-based challenges that lie ahead, snag the floating orb that resides in each segment, and return it to its base – which triggers an explosion of color and sound and unleashes a whole new set of hazards to clear.
Keeping the beat is absolutely essential, as the obstacles and platforms move in sync with the music, creating patterns that are easily identifiable but often still very difficult to navigate past. With multiple moving parts in sections, you'll need precise movements and often a battle plan forged through trial and error to emerge safely on the other end. Never is this truer than during the boss battles/ending segments, which later ditch the platform elements and simply force you to learn and react to patterns very quickly. The final battle in particular is intense and frustrating, but 140 luckily breaks such showdowns into brief sections with reasonable checkpoints.
Once completed, 140 unlocks tough, checkpoint-free versions of its worlds to tackle, which only die-hards are likely to complete. Considering the brief runtime of the main content, some players might be left wanting much more, but we thought it an appropriately sized journey. It's cool and compact, making a nice impression with its pulsing aesthetic without overstaying its welcome and potentially exhausting those simple-but-challenging mechanics.
The bottom line. While not wholly entrancing, 140 is a tiny treat of a tight, focused rhythmic platformer.
Mac OS X 10.6 or newer, 1.5Ghz processor, 1GB RAM
Dazzling lo-fi aesthetic with vibrant colors and pulsing tunes. Challenging platform action that's matched to the beat. Checkpoints keep tough bosses from being truly overwhelming.
Lack of story/context means it's very much a mechanics-centric experience. Brief runtime sure to underwhelm some players, despite the price.