by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
Charming and sincere
There are some games you can tell are going to be special within the first minute of play. They can catch your eye through its visuals or through how it feels, but the feeling remains the same. Yet as often as that feeling can occur, rarely does it permeate throughout an entire experience. In the case of Blue Sheep, what beauty is found in the gameís landscapes and soundtrack is slowly overridden by gameplay that fails to rise to the level of its aesthetic, resulting in a perfectly average game.
Blue Sheep places you in control of a young girl wandering across a fantastical landscape in order to eventually defeat a hostile force known as The Beast. The girl, referred to as The Outsider, is assisted by a unknown person who periodically turns up to assist you in different ways throughout the game.
The story, which should take only a couple of hours to complete at most, is charming and sincere. Snippets of narration throughout provide background into the world and the nature of The Beast, which is a personification of depression from my understanding. This in turn creates a very personal narrative, one which I believe succeeds in conveying how people can suffer from, deal with and overcome depression. It struck a chord with me while I was playing, and it helped to elevate the game beyond the trappings of its platforming nature.
Jumping, rolling, fighting
Speaking of, the gameplay is undoubtedly the weakest aspect of Blue Sheep. Itís simple to pick up, with jumping and rolling being the major mechanics for accessing new areas within the game. Combat is also extremely simple, as it is primarily done by running towards and hitting enemies one at a time as they surround you, occasionally dodging. The straightforwardness works for the early portion of the game, but as you progress it becomes more and more frustrating as new puzzles are introduced without any introduction to help guide you.
Take an early game puzzle where you must hit a rock with your weapon. The mechanics behind the puzzle are not introduced, leaving you to figure out that you must hit them away. This would be fine, were it not for the fact that this is never used again. This occurs so frequently that puzzles began to feel not like challenges but roadblocks that you have to crash into multiple times before having an epiphany. Thereís no sense of accomplishment from completing them.
As for combat, Blue Sheep eventually settles on throwing more and more enemies at you the further you go, with very few modifiers to spice things up. This repetition is boring, and I sighed every time I had to fight in a new encounter. Thereís no difficulty in fighting more of the same, and it makes the experience worse for it.
Thankfully the world itself is quite lovely to look at and explore. The dreamlike quality of the setting is quite a sight to behold, whether itís in the forests and grasslands or in ancient ruins long abandoned. Animations are also well done, with each of the characters and creatures moving fluidly and gracefully. There are some slight technical issues with movement, in that you will hover over empty spaces or occasionally fail to grab onto a ledge you directly jumped to, but taken as a whole the game looks great and runs smoothly.
A lovely soundtrack
The music is the most enjoyable part of Blue Sheep. It welcomes you from the start, carrying you onwards as you explore and fight through the game. Not once did it feel repetitive or unengaging, instead growing in strength as I neared the gameís conclusion. It made me want to explore, want to adventure to new areas and keep pushing my way through to the very end.
Blue Sheep is a lovely game marred by bland platforming and puzzle elements that reduce the overall experience to one that is slightly above average. The music can be beautiful, the world can be lush and the story can be surprisingly powerful, but together all three cannot create a truly memorable experience without the gameplay.
Strong story, beautiful world and music
Poor puzzle designs, bland gameplay and minor technical issues