Even in the busiest of seasons, smaller games deserve some attention. In that spirit, welcome to Month of Coverage Club. Come back each day in November for a full-length impressions piece based on a hidden gem you’ve probably never heard of.
I don’t think I’ve played many games about fungus. In all honesty, it’s not a category I’d gravitate towards voluntarily. However, free games in bundles I already wanted to purchase is a genre I adore. So, I happily ended up with a copy of She Remembered Caterpillars. Lured by the bright character colors and with little trepidation, I dove right in.
She Remembered Caterpillars, is a puzzle game. The object is to end up with each character - fun little shape guys, each with small tentacles growing out of their heads - on an end pad. Sure, sounds simple, but for anyone who’s ever played this type of game before, it’s obviously deceptive. Each character is a different color and the game uses things like color-coded bridges and barriers to block your characters. Characters also combine to form new colors, for example, the blue and red characters combine into purple, and there are machines at more advanced stages that take out or change a character’s color.
Unlike some puzzle games, Caterpillars does have a story. Each level is broken up into Chapters with each stage as an Act. However, the narrative is generally quite vague and doesn’t explain much. There’s a single sentence on each of the Act pages and each Chapter includes a short paragraph of no more than two or three sentences. While the story isn’t the main driving factor, it is intriguing. If nothing else, it's an incentive to press on, complete more levels, and find out exactly what's happening. Hints drop here and there, but the game leaves much to speculation. I'm hoping that there will be a collection of all the story pieces at the end to read through in one shot.
The music of She Remembered Caterpillars has a soothing, almost trance-like quality about it. It doesn't distract from the puzzles and it greatly compliments the atmosphere. Everything is dark and damp, and a little melancholy too. The snippets of text aren’t tragic, but they portray a deep sense of loss without being overwhelming. Working through the stages feels like working through pain and grief. With every Chapter and every snippet of story that we read, we get a little more information, a tiny bit more clarity and a hint of moving on.
The artwork is beautiful, but none of the scenery or backgrounds are truly defined. You see things, beautifully rendered and designed things, but you don’t know what they are. Are those real human hands? Wood carvings? Something else? Much like with the story, there are no answers. Being that it’s open about being a game about fungus (the official description includes the phrase “fungipunk fantasy”) it’s a pretty safe bet that the player travels through some sort of fungal world. The brightly colored characters and obstacles of the world are a nice contrast to the grey and green and brown color palette of the backgrounds.
The logic that the gameplay follows is sound. I’m on Act 5 out of a total of 8, and the game is still throwing in new elements to surprise me. No complacency allowed here. Once you think you’ve mastered a trick, it throws another one at you. Figure out how to efficiently deal with bridges? Great for you, now colors can combine for an added challenge.
Even though I’ve gotten stuck in several places, nothing has been so difficult that it’s impossible to figure out. Once you get into a groove and really get the hang of how things work in the Chapters, it becomes easier to strategize your moves and easier to think ahead. At first, it can be a little overwhelming, but the game does a nice job of progressively building up the difficulty of the stages and introducing you to new elements one at a time.
Overall, She Remembered Caterpillars is a fun puzzle game, with a very interesting premise. If you’d told me I would be having a good time playing a relaxing game about fungus, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But Caterpillars goes to show that hidden gems can be found in the unlikeliest of places.
TechRaptor covered She Remembered Caterpillars on PC via Steam with a copy purchased by the reviewer.