Developer: Arges Systems
Platform: Mac / Desura
Review Copy Provided By: Arges Systems
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Hairy Tales is the story of a group of skeleton-esque, fairy type creatures called the Hairys. One day while lounging about, minding their own business and doing whatever it is magical beings like to do for fun, a great rift opens up in the ground before them and darkness starts to pour out. Naturally they have to stop the darkness before it’s too late and turns the entire land into a swampy, spike-infested garden of evil.
Solving puzzles does this. The game consists of 72 levels split over a few different worlds, and the goal is essentially always the same. Grab an icy looking magical crystal and bring it to a portal that clears the level of evil. Easier said than done right? Not for the Hairys, who only run forward and don’t watch where they walk at all.
The game seemed easy enough at first. To correctly solve a puzzle, you have to manipulate the landmass by moving tiles around, thus creating a safe path from the Hairy, to the crystal and then finally to the portal. At first it’s quite simple. You’re presented with a few tutorials to send you on your way, and the puzzles only require a few simple tile movements to succeed.
After a few levels of the same type of beginner difficulty, the game throws in a few curve balls in the form of gameplay elements. Changing tiles while your Hairy walks, wooden fences that change the direction of your Hairys’ movement, enemies that require you to pick up other items in addition to the icy crystal to defeat and teleporting tiles are just a few examples. For the most part though, things like that are standard puzzle game fare. The game just seemed like a run of the mill puzzle solver.
And then I got past the first 10 or so levels, and the difficulty increased from a reasonable “meh” to an insane “holy cow I’m going to throw my computer through the wall.” I am not even kidding in the slightest. It’s as if one of the Hairys stumbles into your computer, breaks off the hardness switch, and laughs at you while you struggle in vain to figure out a way to get to the next level without tumbling off an edge.
As the game progresses, the difficulty goes up as well. Your reflexes will be put to the test, and you will have to think incredibly quickly on your feet if you want to make it to the next level. It’s the type of thing that fans of the genre will love, but if you only play puzzlers occasionally you will be turned off quick.
If there is one upside to the madness inducing hardness however, it’s that there are multiple ways to finish every puzzle. This encourages you to think creatively and try to figure things out differently then you normally would. I found though, that this barely eased my mind when stuck in the middle of a particularly difficult level that I had already tried to solve, unsuccessfully, four or five times. So be prepared to get frustrated often.
The worst part about all the puzzle solving though (which isn’t saying that the puzzle solving in the game is bad) is the wonky controls. I can’t count how many times I clicked on one tile, hoping to move it while my Hairy ran around, only to have nothing happen. Controlling the camera is a joke as well, as it is extremely sensitive and there is no way to rotate the playing field. Good luck trying to find a “middle ground” when it comes to zooming in and out. There is only super close up and very far off.
The game’s website says that Hairy Tales is “fiendishly difficult”, and it’s not kidding at all.
Actual puzzle solving and its issues aside, the game does really well in the visual and audio departments. The cartoony graphics aren’t the best, but they work well with the whimsical feeling set by the story. The sound works well in the same way, creating a nice underlying tone that fits nicely with the rest of the experience.
Overall, Hairy Tales isn’t a game for everyone. If you love puzzle games or are a gamer that lives for challenge, then Hairy Tales offers a stimulating and difficult experience that should not be missed. If however, you’re more of a casual gamer with not a lot of familiarity in the puzzle genre, Hairy Tales is not for you. Your computer will end up with a broken screen.