Developer: Perfect Hat
Publisher: Perfect Hat
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Release date: February 22, 2018
Bite-sized Reviews differ from our more traditional, full-length reviews in that they’re restricted to smaller titles and, as the name implies, trims the fat in favor of getting straight to the point. What is this game and why should you care? Let’s get to that below!
So, what is MEMBRANE?
A batshit insane, imaginative 2D puzzle platformer serving as the console debut of developer Perfect Hat. Though mostly draped in black, the world is occasionally splashed with psychidelic color combinations and an almost Hotline Miami-inspired soundtrack. Every room acts as a platforming puzzle, but what sets MEMBRANE apart from the rest of the pack is how it tasks you with reaching the exit.
You control a little triangle-headed person who can shoot blocks from its face that stick to each other, as wells as certain walls and objects. A meter at the bottom of the screen displays your remaining ammo, so you can’t build indefinitely. However, you can also fire off normal triangle-shaped shots that break blocks (replenishing your ammo meter), move large objects, and ricochet off white borders.
Rather than having the platforms put in place at the start of the level, MEMBRANE wants you to dig deep and use your creativity to build your own way to each exit. You’ll create basic bridges and platforms, shoot giant green balls to smash them through barriers, and attach blocks to rotating objects for crude, makeshift devices. It’s a tentpole feature that’s completely bonkers and awesome.
Why should you care?
While MEMBRANE doesn’t always work, it does so more often than not and it’s simply unlike anything else I’ve ever played. It’s such a cool, satisfying, unique approach to a tried-and-true genre with more than 30 years of source material to borrow from. It’s not overly long and works well as a to-go, short burst experience for fans of the 2D platforming genre.
Where does it go wrong?
The difficulty spikes are largely dependent on your imagination, but even some of the earlier levels stumped me for what felt like 45-or-so minutes. Levels need to be completed in their given order, so getting stuck led to me taking breaks rather than dipping my toes into a different one, but this was never a major issue.
MEMBRANE became my to-go game, or the one I turned to when I had 20-30 minutes to spare, but it’s still worth noting that it can weigh in on the challenging side and turn folks away simply because it requires a lot of trial and error. The platformer also doesn’t always control precisely or nail the mechanics, but it’s competent enough to let its unusual hook sink in.
Narratively, it’s not really worth getting into. There’s a brief cinematic at the start where a fly lands on a guy’s arm, and the game itself is actually you triggering synapses inside his body so he can move his arm and shoo it away. It sets up the absurdity of the game well, but just don’t jump in expecting an emotional journey. MEMBRANE is thematically weird, which I love, but I understand it’s not for everyone.
Okay, so is it worth checking out?
If you’re a fan of platformers, particularly puzzle platformers, then absolutely. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever played and that alone is praiseworthy. It may not always work as intended, but figuring out how to craft my way to each exit was always (and continues to be) a rewarding experience, even while struggling.
As the Nintendo Switch’s digital library continues to rapidly expand, it’s becoming harder and harder to sift through the constant barrage of new releases. What’s new and interesting? Your guess is as good as mine, but with many games offering similar experiences, MEMBRANE has what it takes to stand out and is definitely deserving of a spot on your console.
We don’t use a scoring system here at Cheap Boss Attack, so hopefully you found the information above far more informative than some arbitrary number or a sequence of shaded-in star shapes.
A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.