Irritum (PC) Review
- Interesting puzzles
- Multi-platform (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
Not so much?
- Darker subject matter: suicide and depression
Irritum is an interesting and unconventional puzzle-platformer featuring a story line that focuses on depression and suicide.
In the past, puzzle games were pretty simple. Like classic arcade games, you didn’t have to worry about a story or plot line explaining what you were trying to accomplish. You played them simply to challenge and stimulate your mind. As the difficulty increased, your response time decreased. Nowadays, puzzle games are sort of educational TV — they’re designed to be stimulating and entertaining, like Puzzle Quest and Portal series. You’re having fun and being challenged. They have story lines, genre-mixing gameplay, and even feature surprise twist endings. When I first heard about Irritum and its sobering plot, I did a double take — a puzzle game about depression and suicide, how does that work? I wanted to find out immediately.
Irritum is a 3-Dimensional puzzle platformer, created by independent developer Nicholas Padgett, where the goal is pretty simple: get from Point A to Point B. Like any good platformer (see: Super Mario Bros), you’ll do a lot of jumping. In Irritum, to get to your goal you’ll do plenty of jumping, as well as activating and deactivating inter-dimensional planes. These planes are switched on and off by using the the three mouse buttons (the left, right and scroll wheel). The catch is that only one plane can be activated at a time. This, of course, requires the player to be fast on their feet (or with their mouse-clicking fingers, in this case). Planes are highlighted with one of three distinct colors, and until they’re activated, the player can pass right through them like a ghost. The game introduces the planes element early on, but players will need to quickly learn to master plane swapping, as you’ll be switching active planes in mid-jump by the 6th or 7th level. Thankfully, Irritum has a checkpoint system, and once you get to that point, you’ll resume there if you miss a plane or platform. This helps cut down on the frustration factor of night quite being quick enough.
The plot or Irritum, is where where this title will clearly stand out among other similar games. The focus is on depression and suicide.
As the player, you are in a sort of purgatory world with no memory of past events or how you got to where you are. Two beings, Cassus and Sollus, guide you around each level, one encourages you to discover your lost memories, which are placed in challenging locations within each level, and the other suggests that you forget the memories and head straight for the exit instead.
How you choose to play the game is up to you.
For the most part, navigating the levels makes sense, but there was one early level that gave me a helluva time and left me scratching my head for the solution. The problem was that my character was facing a wall, with an obvious platform on the other side. I knew I needed to get there. After several two failed attempts to jump around the wall, I gave up on that solution and looked for another way out. Turns out, I had the correct answer, and just wasn’t timing my jumps quite right. When I tried again, after wracking my brain for any other obvious answer, the around-the-wall jump worked and I was able to continue on.
Irritum is an enjoyable puzzle game, despite how involved you may become during the journey. As the game’s guides, Cassus and Sollus, explain, you can explore each level to uncover the mystery of your lost memories, or you can simply play Irritum as a puzzle game, and not have to deal with the game’s darker subject matter. I only had two gripes with Irritum. The first complaint was its somewhat unpolished look. It led to a few situations, like the platform navigating problem above, where what I thought was a glitch was actually the proper solution. My second problem, which is related to the first, is that I really would have liked to have a slightly more helpful tutorial, that spent a little more time letting the player get accustomed to performing actions to solve later solutions.
Irritum is available for Windows, Mac, and PC for a cost of only $9.99.