I was struggling to come up with an idea of what to review next, so I did what any sane video game reviewer would do: I looked at the games I’d never played on Steam. There’s a pretty substantial list, as I’m sure is the case with most people who have a Steam account, and I couldn’t figure out how to sort it by anything, so I just decided to play the game at the top of the alphabetically ordered list. That game happened to be the rhythmic platformer called 140.
140 is a very minimalist game. You play a block looking to complete a simple task – proceed through the level while avoiding the static areas and collecting little orbs to progress. After collecting half a dozen or so of the orbs, you move on to a boss level which poses a slightly different and significantly more challenging trial. It’s not exactly a ground-breaking idea, but the execution is incredibly well done. The first thing to note is that each level has its own background song and every obstacle adds something to the tune. It could be the sound the slider makes or the way a structure starts to snake its way through the map before disappearing, but most of the music in this game is actually made from these little hurdles in your path. This is the main feature of the game and this is what makes it so engaging. The music surrounding you gives you hints as to when’s best to move, making the action of jumping between some rapidly closing blocks seem less impossible. With each jump you make, you’ll be interacting with the soundtrack. You’ll feel much more engaged in moving through the game as you contribute to the beat the game has provided for you.
The levels you find yourself in aren’t extensively designed as to cause millions of deaths, but they have been designed with obstacles sparsely placed to give you enough of a challenge to make you enjoy the game without tearing your hair out. There are frequent check points as well, so even if you are against a particularly tricky puzzle and your timing isn’t quite perfect, you’ll not be too far away to retry it. The best puzzles in it come with the orbs you need to collect. These are the main objectives in the game and to start with, are fairly easy to obtain. As you progress through the game, I wouldn’t say they become more difficult to get hold of, but the orbs become more playful. They play with the beat in order to avoid you and in some cases try to hide in blocks for you to find. These are then used at later stages to “upgrade” the level by unlocking newer obstacles to face. All of this is completed by the phenomenal level design. The background is a vibrant and colourful audio-equaliser with complementary colours in the foreground. It’s simple, but eye-catching and attractive.
There’s not a great deal more to say about the game because of its minimalist style. The obvious criticism is that it’s very short. The game has three main levels and three challenge levels, which are just the first three levels flipped horizontally and include permanent death. They can be a challenge, but if you’re used to the puzzles in the first half of the game, it shouldn’t cause you too many issues. I left Carlsen Games’ award winning creation after about an hour and a half, having completed the first three levels and one of the challenge levels feeling fairly satisfied, if a little let down with the overall length.
At its current price of £4 on Steam, it’s definitely something to consider, though the price to longevity ratio is a little off. Despite that, you can always pick it up and replay it as it’s a remarkably fun platformer. The visuals and music are two very appealing aspects of 140 and it’s no surprise that it walked away with the Excellence in Audio award at the 2013 Independent Games Festival awards. It’ll definitely keep you entertained for an afternoon, so if you want a fun experience for the price of a pint of beer, this is the game for you.