140 Review

You might describe 140 as a minimalist rhythm platformer, but another description could be as a test of listening skills and patience. All the levels are built with a musical factor that the rest of the game adheres to. Platforms, puzzles, and hazards are all linked to the beat of the music, and as a player you really need to listen closely before acting.

When I say that this is a minimalist game, I really mean it. The levels are nicely designed and goal is to guide the little icon through relatively simple platforming challenges. Through each stage you need to collect small orbs which then activate a new phase for a level. Additional phases add new layers of rhythm to the music which correspond to new obstacles that appear. For example, one specific music loop may control just when a block fades in and out of existence.

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The increase in hazards is gradual throughout the game, and never feel unfair. You’ll more often than not be caught out by mistiming a jump to coincide with the beat correctly. The puzzles themselves are varied and include the fading platforms as mentioned above and areas of static, which send you back to the nearest checkpoint if touched.

Each of the three areas in the game end in a boss fight, which are quite unique and test your reflexes as well as your ability to keep rhythm. One of these levels has you dodging bouncing balls of static while trying to destroy the floating bosses, while others are focused on dodging or stopping a boss from hitting you. Again these aren’t hard levels, as long as you can keep time.

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The three main areas aren’t the end of 140 though. After completing the initial run you unlock the mirror levels, which are much trickier to master. This isn’t because the platforming is harder or the hazards are trickier. No, it’s because touching static doesn’t send you back to a checkpoint but kicks you out of the stage completely. There is no room for error, and patience will be required to make it through.

With music such an integral part of the game, you’d expect it to be good and to fit the gameplay. You could play much of the music here in the background, as something that wouldn’t be too out of place from the likes of Café del Mar. It doesn’t overload your senses, but gradually draws you in instead. This works well from the playing perspective too since the track is so easy to grasp that you may end up humming along, which in turn allows you to judge jumps in a more focused way.

140 d0esn’t let you pause, which can become a bit of an issue if you’re dragged away from the game during a boss fight, where it’s very easy to be hit and killed. Even so, tackling the three main stages only takes around an hour, and there isn’t much incentive to go back since there are no leaderboards or a speedrun mode to improve times. The mirror stages do add a good few hours on top, as you try to master them.

What’s Good:

  • Minimalist design looks good
  • The music sounds good
  • Levels are well designed

What’s Bad:

  • Very short
  • No pausing
  • No reason to replay

With only a gradual difficulty curve to its platforming, 140 is just a few hours long, but they’re a good few hours. There’s a vibrant and colourful minimalist art style, and it goes well with the soundtrack that really underscores and ties into the simplistic rhythm platforming.

Score: 8/10

Version tested: PS4

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From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.