Amongst the beautifully composed environments of ibb & obb, there’s only one thing more charming than an anthropomorphic blob navigating life, and that’s two anthropomorphic blobs navigating life. ibb and obb – the stars of this co-op puzzle adventure – are on the search for something together, but exactly what that would be is never explained. You and your co-op companion must guide the two characters from A to B across 15 side-scrolling levels. You’ll laugh, frown, cheer, and feel dumbfounded as your brain cells are tested. And it’s not an easy journey.
ibb and obb’s path is defined by a horizon line stretching across the screen. There are platforms to jump on above and below the line, and access to the ‘below’ area is made via carefully positioned openings. These openings act as portals, with gravity reversed on the other side. Additionally, the portals may be colour-coded. Only ibb can travel through one that is his colour, for example. The challenge becomes to follow a route that allows both characters to continue their journey. At some points, one character may need to jump on the other’s head to reach a ledge that is just out of reach, or the clever use of a trampoline may help to get to the outer reaches of the screen.
The surroundings are beautiful, and helpful little creatures are scattered about to aid ibb and obb. Black spiked blobs can kill on contact, but if one player slips under the horizon and rolls over the white glow beneath the foe, it explodes in a shower of collectable crystals. Careful team-work will result in a higher score at the end of the level, and there are hidden levels to find within the environment.
Like any good puzzle game, the mechanics of gameplay available to you are gradually introduced as the challenges become more devious. Even with two human brains working in unison, the game soon gets tricky. You can find yourself stuck on a screen for a good half an hour, planning a route. It may sound frustrating, but it’s part of the fun. There’s genuine laugh out loud moments when the best-laid plan falls to pieces. The joy of solving a challenge together is priceless; it’s one of those perks of playing video games collaboratively.
During the brain-teasing moments, your thoughts are accompanied by a beautifully crafted soundtrack provided by electronic composer Kettel. It is to his credit that he has created music that flows unobtrusively while you’re sat, controller in hand, shaking your head in puzzlement at what to do next. The game works successfully when played in tabletop mode or on the big screen. Each player can hold a Joy-Con, but it’s worth also trying a full controller each, and experimenting to see if you prefer the digital precision of the D-Pad buttons or the analogue movement of the thumbsticks.
What is essential is a player two, and this may be the stumbling block for some potential players. While the game could be played alone, it wouldn’t be very enjoyable, as the lone explorer would have to effectively adopt the controls of both of the characters. ibb & obb is undoubtedly designed for cooperative fun. The game offers online play, but it’s much easier (and more enjoyable) to play the old-fashioned way, in the same room, on the same screen. Like ibb and obb themselves, player one and two are better together.
ibb & obb £13.49
ibb & obb is a game that requires two great minds, working together, to achieve the end goal. It’s a beautiful journey, but be prepared to challenge your brain cells if you want to reach the end.