Platform games are a legendary genre. From Mario to Ratchet & Clank, they continue to inspire with their great sense of adventure in whimsical worlds. Scarf from Uprising Studios immerses you in its world with gorgeous visuals and heartwarming charm, along with excellent tissue physics that puts the Shinobi of the PS2 to shame.
You are a newborn being who is being projected aimlessly into the world. You soon discover the offspring of a dragon, whose mother has been torn to shreds by mysterious invaders. These invaders used the remains to create portals to new worlds using the power of the left-behind sons, placing the young dragon on a mission of revenge as he pursued the invaders through the newly created portals. After meeting and befriending you in this new world, he lends his power to you as your scarf and accompanies you through the worlds, consuming the power of any invaders he encounters.
You’ll move through these worlds using a variety of platforming techniques, most of which come from the power of your sling. While you can jump and sprint on your own, your sling is the thing that gives you powers like double jump and grappling hook. Using these powers, you will pass through the various locations through the portals of the invaders. These levels are packed with puzzles and other unique items, such as air cannons and level-modifying crystals. While the puzzles and platforming challenges aren’t particularly difficult to overcome, moving around these worlds is fun and exciting.
After getting your move suite, the worlds of Scarf feel like a playground for them. You’ll jump, slide, and rush through a variety of locations as you explore their unique mechanics and puzzles. As your scarf takes over the power of the invaders, your main goals are puzzle solving and exploration. This focus works in Scarf’s favor, as his worlds are beautiful.
Scarf’s visuals are simply stunning. Each world is a feast for the eyes and a joy to explore, littered with nooks and crannies that help you take in the scenery. From beautiful islands to lush forests, the natural beauty and mysterious architecture of each level is a great addition to exploring and platforming. Scarf’s focus on puzzle solving also features some puzzles that require unique fixed camera angles, which adds to the immersion of the experience. You can also find hidden and varied collectibles off the beaten track, which makes exploring these beautiful regions rewarding.
While these collectibles are optional, ‘Inks’ will play short cutscenes when discovered. These cutscenes are immersive and add tons of context to the story when found, to the point where some aspects of the narrative can be difficult to understand without them. Other collectibles include little golden toys and artwork that help fill the world and make exploring worth it, which makes a short game rather beefy when taken as a whole.
The inks alone make exploring interesting, although they’re easy to miss if you don’t explore all of the levels. This makes their delivery lackluster given their narrative importance. Even so, the visual storytelling in Scarf is still top notch as you make your way through the world and bond with your Dragon Sash. You will periodically stop to bond and play, and sometimes even cure it by giving it a fruit made of light, which will create heartwarming and emotional moments. Sometimes, however, these moments come at the expense of gameplay.
While the visuals are gorgeous and the world is worth exploring, Scarf does suffer from a few issues that will take you away from the suspenseful story and beautiful locations. One of the biggest issues is with the single player sections where you have to go through the sections of the level without your sling. While some of these areas are compelling and add tension to the experience, it’s more often than not shocking to go through long periods of play without more than half of your usual platforming abilities.
The soundtrack is also far from memorable, as it is overshadowed by the powerful sound effects of the world around you most of the time. There are also small issues that might have needed more attention, like minor wall clipping and brief audio bursts at the start of a few cutscenes.
Scarf is an interesting and emotional puzzle platformer that manages to keep you engaged with a varied amount of abilities, which are complemented by a beautiful presentation, airy puzzle design, and unique mechanics on each level. The visual storytelling is heartwarming, with plenty of moments that will leave a smile on your face. While its deeper themes and meanings are hidden behind collectibles, the amazing visuals make it easy for you to want to find them all. However, the areas without your scarf look shocking and the soundtrack leaves a dull impression. While there is a lot to love about the visuals and atmosphere of the game for those who devote the time to it, players who don’t stop to find the collectibles in each world may find that the game is over. before it even starts.
A Steam key has been provided by PR for the purpose of this review
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Scarf is a beautiful platform puzzle that packs a lot of meaning into a small package, but only for those who want to explore all of its beautiful places.