She Remembered Caterpillars Is a Trippy, Touching Must-Play for Any Puzzle-Lover

With the Nintendo Switch's constantly growing library of games, I often have to be picky about the ones I make the time to play.

I'm constantly being pitched new titles, but when I was asked to review Jumpsuit Entertainment'She Remembered Caterpillars, something drew me to it. I was more than happy to say yes, and now I'm thrilled that it's part of my game library.

The puzzle game's setup is unusual, to say the least. The narrative unfolded via text screens before each of its 40 levels, slowly unraveling a cryptic but captivating story of the relationship between a father and daughter and their endeavor to stave off death. Their story also ties into the life of the gammies—the funny little creatures you control throughout She Remembered Caterpillars.

She Remembered Caterpillars: gammies name

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

From there, the game started off very simply. I took control of a gammie with a red block head, sent it hopping merrily across a red bridge and stepped on a white mushroom pedestal, causing the creature to float away to the next level.

She Remembered Caterpillars: first level

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

Of course, it wouldn't be much of a game if that was all there was to it. In the next level, a round, blue-headed critter was also thrown into the mix. This time, there were blue bridges, as well as red. With a single button, I could swap instantly between the gammies to get them to their goals, and it was here that the core rules of the game were really established.

Through a little experimentation, I discovered that red folks could cross red bridges, but not blue. Blue ones could cross blue bridges, but not red. Instead of telling me the rules, the game offered up the simplest way for me to find them out for myself. The entire game unfolds like this, smartly introducing new concepts one at a time in controlled environments until every new addition feels completely intuitive. In fact, they feel inevitable. Nothing is ever hand-fed to the player, and every little insight I gained was earned through trial and error, with every mistake cementing the rules in my mind.

She Remembered Caterpillars: blue chaffeur

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

When the game introduced a purple domed gammie, I instinctively understood that it would be able to cross both red and blue bridges. When I saw my first purple bridge, I knew that only the purple being could traverse it.

She Remembered Caterpillars: purple, blue and red gammies flying

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

When the first red and blue doorways appeared, it somehow seemed obvious that they'd be the opposite of the bridges, with reds keeping out reds, blues keeping out blues and both preventing purples from passing.

She Remembered Caterpillars: Walking through red door

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

That's when the game threw me for a loop with one of its most important mechanics—merging gammies. It's the one time the game jumps in and directly tells the player how to perform an action, but it's crucial. By putting red and blue gammies next to each other, I could transform them into a single purple gammie by pressing a button, and then separate them by pressing it again. This made the game exponentially more complicated while also making it that much more mind-bendingly fun.

She Remembered Caterpillars: merging gammies

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

Sometimes, one gammie would act as a chauffeur to the others, picking each one up in turn to get them across bridges of its color. Other times, getting through the level would require thinking 10 steps ahead and constantly swapping between combinations to get everyone to their final destinations. It's difficult to describe the delight in this complexity, but it really works, with every solution feeling more satisfying than the last.

And just when I felt like I was really getting a handle on things, they threw another wrench into the equation by adding in yellow. Things were tricky enough just juggling red, blue and purple gammies, but thanks to merging, the arrival of the triangular yellow character also meant dealing with green and orange ones. The game is masterful at sticking to its core concepts, allowing like colors to pass bridges but be blocked at doors, and constantly building on them in order to add more intricacy at every turn.

She Remembered Caterpillars: introduction of yellow

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

But there was one last twist up the game's sleeve, and that was the removal of color. Some levels have primary color stations that will either remove the color of the gammies with the same color or add a color to a naked white gammie. Again, this exponentially amped up the number of options I had for each and every choice I had to make in the game, but it felt like a completely natural extension of the rules. And as always, more difficulty meant more fun.

She Remembered Caterpillars: naked gammies

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

The game has a couple of additional tricks, such as switches you must press down to cross bridges, or one-way bridges that swap direction every time you walk across them, but besides that, everything you do in the game is based on the laws of its primary and secondary colors.

She Remembered Caterpillars: pressing switch

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

Maybe it's because of that adherence that the game works so well, no matter how hard it may get. Almost every time I was stuck, when I took a break from the game and came back to it later, I'd be able to find the solution within a couple of minutes. Despite the additions, the basic precepts are constant, so my knowledge was always building, too. Once I'd acquired the skills needed to complete later levels, the early ones that once gave me trouble felt like a piece of cake.

She Remembered Caterpillars: Late level with hands and secondary colors

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

And the gameplay isn't the only thing that works. Its hand-drawn aesthetic is beautiful and icky all at the same time. The artwork is remarkable, but unfortunately, I sometimes would get too caught up in the puzzles to really appreciate them. At one point, my husband glanced over my shoulder to comment on the stunning look of a level. Only then that I notice that the game platform was held up by crumbling stone hands.

She Remembered Caterpillars: hand level

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

The level select screen also consists of a vertical structure that seems to gravitate between organic and inorganic, adding to the spooky ambiance, and the one-part-soothing, one-part-creepy music is the perfect fit.

She Remembered Caterpillars: tree base

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

I have to be totally transparent in saying that I stumbled upon a bug that cut my game time short toward the end of the sixth world—and just when the game was getting really tough. I hope it gets patched soon, because I can't wait to finish the game and see how it all plays out. Not having played the last chunk of the game, there are also parts of the story that I'm still missing, but I'm eager to fill in the blanks and find out what the game is really about.

She Remembered Caterpillars: Neural function text

(She Remembered Caterpillars via Ysbryd Games)

While the game might not be for everyone, I believe its elegantly straightforward puzzle design should make it an instant classic, and I hope it sees a ton of success on the Switch.

 

She Remembered Caterpillars is now available on Steam and the Nintendo Switch for $11.99.

 

For more of our favorite puzzles on the Nintendo Switch, click HERE to read our review of Gorogoa.