The first game launched with Rockit Games as a publisher, Where’s Samantha is an absolutely fantastic 2D puzzle platformer. My tagline for it is ‘If Thomas Was Alone dressed up as Sackboy’ but that does an injustice to Where’s Samantha. Whilst the setup and structure of the game may be similar to Thomas Was Alone, the puzzles themselves are a whole different beast.
Where’s Samantha sees the titular character disappear out the gate and you play as George, a fabric household block that can move and jump about. George is suffering from a severe case of impostor syndrome and insecurity about himself and the people around him. Between each level, you have the opportunity to be read a page of his story as he tries to regain not just Samantha but himself too. You do this by collecting all the letters in the previous level. These story segments are narrated by comedian Rufus Hound who does a great job.
Each of the 45 levels will have various puzzles that revolve around weight distribution. George is a medium-sized block but he can eat a plant and grow into a giant blue version of himself. Heavier and less agile, this will trigger different traps and weigh down bridges or tilt platforms. George can also then split himself in half to have two of himself and sometimes three or four smaller versions of himself. These are used to hold down buttons, create stacked platforms or block something. This is how Where’s Samantha starts out and you think you know where its going, but the game gets more inventive over time.
It isn’t long before you meet other blocks along the way and you can merge and split from them too. It is all in the narrative way of teamwork and friendship but from a gameplay perspective, it really opens the puzzles up. One character is small and feather-like and can glide with a jump but is also very susceptible to wind and overshoots bounce pads. Then you have the long thin character who can double jump but can’t fit into narrow gaps. You’ll be merging and splitting from these other characters to create hybrids of them to get the best of both worlds. It is here that Where’s Samantha shines most. The puzzles are never silly or too overblown – in fact, the levels are very narrow and focused. You can usually understand what you need to do to clear them, it is just making sure that you line or time it all to perfection. To aid all of this, most of the puzzles are both size and colour co-ordinated. So a bigger George will need to be blue sized to press the blue button. Where the challenge comes is that wind machines press you up or down and that changes your weight so from half way, you’ll be thinking about the pyramid of Georges and what the level effect will do to you.
As a result, Where’s Samantha is a largely very approachable game. I think both kids and adults will find lots to enjoy here for different reasons. I sound a bit of a broken record but I had the same ‘aha!’ moment here, as I did with Thomas Was Alone. To me, that is a huge compliment.
Where’s Samantha will take you about 5-6 hours to complete if you don’t get stuck and perhaps a little longer if you want to find all the letters to unlock and enjoy the story. A nice touch is that you flick back and forth and have the whole story read to you like its bedtime. Literally the only small negative I have with the game is that there was no full screen mode. Instead, it ran inside a browser and I couldn’t find a way to get it perfectly full screen. I’m sure that can be added at a later point.
Genuinely heart warming, engrossing and fun to play, I’ve not enjoyed a ‘simple’ puzzle platformer like this for years. Where’s Samantha is pure joy. I had to finish it in two sittings late at night because I didn’t want to put it down. I felt attached to everyone and everything and just wanted our true loves to be united. it says a lot when they are merely blocks of fabric. I urge any 2D platform fan to pick this up – its a true gem.
Review copy provided by publisher.
Where's Samantha is a superb, engrossing and heartfelt adventure that wears its heart on its sleeve. One of the best 2D platformers I've played in ages.
Fantastic puzzle mechanics.
Easy controls and puzzles that you can udnerstand.
Story is fun and adorable whilst feeling like it can speak to adults too.
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