Puzzle games are an odd bunch. Unlike most genres where you know what you are getting, puzzle games can be more or less anything as long as it involves using your brain a lot, which really doesn’t help narrow it down. They can range anywhere from the Bubble Bobble’s of the world, to more complex games like The Witness or something more irreverent like Portal. It is always nice to come across something unique in the genre and Membrane for Nintendo Switch fits the bill very well, as you play a thought process making it’s through the body in order to carry out a command. It’s a fairly interesting premise for a puzzle game and this physics puzzler does it well.
You make your way through the levels with an incredibly simple move set of jumping, firing sticky blocks and destroying said blocks. You only have a set amount of blocks too, so you can’t just paint the town red with them, you have to be careful, and while you might not even notice this in some of the early levels, as you progress you will find that it becomes all too relevant.
Alongside this are several types of puzzle mechanics that are introduced as you go. Pools of liquid that will kill you, the need to make electric circuits, and surfaces that you can’t stick blocks to all come into play as you advance through the body. By the end of the game you will be juggling all of these elements and it will feel like you have been doing them all along anyway, which is a mark of a well designed game. The new ideas are introduced a perfect rate so it never feels too overwhelming or too sluggish.
The game is a little bit on the short side, but as you discover more and more collectables, you unlock new mini-games to tackle. These give you a bit more to get out of the game and are a nice break from the main puzzles, though they’re not quite as enjoyable.
One of the most striking things about the game is the Teletext-esque visual style. The entire game is in bright contrasting colours and dark black backgrounds, every detail pops out of the screen at you and you are never left wondering what effect something will have because of the clear coding. You will learn that every colour represents a different effect to either your character or your blocks, so, for example, magenta will kill you off and yellow will melt your blocks.
The music is similarly interesting, fitting with the art in an 80s inspired audio and visual aesthetic that work together with the mechanics. You’re left in no doubt that you’re playing something a little bit different.
Membrane is an immensely enjoyable puzzle game filled an increasingly interesting use of it’s simple base mechanics. Not only does each new area give you a new obstacle to contend with, it does so in a way that challenges you at first, but quickly becomes just another thing you know how to deal with. The satisfaction of making it through a level combined with the unique visual style and 80s inspired audio makes for a great puzzle game where the biggest draw back is just that there is not more if it.
Available on Nintendo Switch