There’s a good chance you’ve never played something quite like Garlic. Sure, it’s fast-paced death-defying platforming might not be anything that unusual. But couple it with a genuine sense of humour, a ridiculous plot and some truly hilarious pixel art, and you’ve got something you can’t help but love.
At its core, Garlic is a hardcore platformer about climbing a tower in order to reach a goddess. Think Mario’s boss levels, but on speed and LSD. Chopped into manageable chunks, each section of Garlic tasks you with dodging, jumping and dashing at just the right moment as you get past spikes, enemies and deadly pits of doom. It’s tricky, but it’s designed to be: thanks to plenty of checkpoints you’re unlikely to ever get truly frustrated. Rather, it’ll leave you feeling truly satisfied each time you reach a checkpoint.
Between the platforming action you’ll be treated to a number of cutscenes where Garlic’s personality truly shines. That goddess? She’s no normal goddess: she’s the Cyber Goddess, and if the titular hero manages to get to her, she’ll grant his wish. This isn’t the type of game to have voice acting, but there’s a small amount of text where necessary – although the animations do a great enough job of portraying the story.
Along with cutscenes, Garlic also throws some random gameplay sections at you. You might find an arcade cabinet you can interact with: a Space Invaders-style game that seems designed to be impossible. Try and play it if you want, but it’s watching Garlic’s big, round head get closer to exploding each time he fails that’s the real joy there. Another short section had us moving towards the screen, avoiding trash on the ground and kicking cans. Random? Yes. Entertaining? Also yes.
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But even without Garlic’s quirkiness, its platforming is engaging enough to keep us playing. Its controls are perfectly responsive, making it a joy to play. You know that if you fluff a jump or end up bashing your head on some spikes, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Practice makes perfect, and you’ll soon find yourself getting into a nice rhythm of jumping and dashing; a swift ballet as you dodge the deadly obstacles all around you.
Garlic isn’t the longest of games, though the amount of time you spend with it will depend on your skill level. Being published by Ratalaika Games, its trophies/achievements come rather easily, and you’ll have earned them all long before the end credits roll. It’s one of the rare cases it’s a shame, as it’ll undoubtedly take the impetus away from some players to keep on going. But you should: its gameplay is just as rewarding, if not moreso, than the achievements you’ll unlock.
If you’re a fan of fast-paced platforming and like a challenge, consider Garlic a must-have. Add to that its budget price and its excellent sense of humour, and you have an indie gem that really does deserves more attention than it’s had so far.