Warm up your fingers, close your eyes and take a deep breath...
You’re about to enter the depths of Yuri’s world.
Yuri is a platform game with a unique atmosphere. You’ll need dexterity,
curiosity and the ability to go with the flow to help Yuri overcome all the obstacles
and reach the goal of his mysterious journey. Explore an exuberant and sensitive world,
full of secret passages and buried memories.
Yuri is a real indie gem, lovingly developed over six long years by the Potier brothers, Ange and Aurélien. With its sumptuous drawings and dazzling soundtrack, Yuri is a world of its own, both poetic and demanding.
October 31, 2019
iOS/MAC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Rating: E for Everyone
Price: $13.99 (Switch), $6.99 (iOS)
Brothers—arguably the most celebrated and recycled familial tie in media. Whether streaming in HD, read in literature, or found in song, brothers are an unbreakable force no challenge can overcome. They find no greater place than in video games to show that. Simply look at some examples of brothers in games: Mario & Luigi, the Sons of Sparda, and the tongue-in-cheek Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. And look at examples in gaming development: The Moldenhauers (Cuphead), Balas (Vicarious Visions), and lastly, the Potiers for their work on Yuri.
Yuri is a super clean game that inspires imagination.
Ange and Aurélien Potlier, brothers from France, come together to bring a quaint little experience based off of their childhood. After six years of development, they have created their dream, and acquired the ability to port their game to the Nintendo Switch. Yuri has quite a recognition in France, earning live concerts of the soundtrack. Yuri also exists in his own comic, with a long ten-year lineage. And yet, it’s very difficult to find more information about this on the web, however.
The story of Yuri is simple. The cosmonaut explorer awakens from his sleep, and his bed transforms into a scooter. After taking a short ride through his base, he examines a map, punches in some coordinates, and launches himself into the deep of this seemingly unexplored world. The first level introduces the mechanics of riding around and jumping, essentially all that happens in the entire game. It also showcases the sound effects that dominate your hearing experience, the occasional music track that plays, and how the physics work with Yuri.
Yuri is celebrated by the company not for its achievement, but for its development. To try and understand Yuri, one begins with its inception. The Potier brothers were inspired by a vacation house they frequented as children which is surrounded by “lush, untamed nature”. From a dense forest, canyons, a large house, and a strange K’NEX play set with lasers and magnets, Yuri jumps and speeds, avoiding bugs while collecting fireflies.
Challenge is important in any game and Yuri comes with it. The mechanics of swimming underwater, flying, jumping from ledge to ledge, being chased, having gravity exploited, and timing are all there. The good thing about each challenge is you know what is expected of you. Dying is of no consequence; it will happen very often, and checkpoints are almost always near the spot you didn’t clear. Losing is almost comical, as Yuri gives a half-hearted “nooo….” as he plummets away.
The art raises a slight eyebrow for me as I run across creatures like a giant cat, or a frog giving an unsettling eye, but never doing anything to Yuri as he jumps over their heads. As hand-drawn aesthetics go, it gets a decent passing grade, measuring up to the likes of LIMBO, or Badlands. It’s nice that Fingerlabs took the time to add in little details like birds flying in the background, Yuri’s little facial expressions, or the blinking of the creepy creatures. That kind of effort adds to the atmosphere.
The sound is another good thing to come from Yuri. Most of the time, you’ll hear the wheels going on his little scooter, and whatever insect or animal is nearby. With headphones on, the ambiance is nice. The real mood of each level reaches its peak once the song finally plays. With as many components combined into one, Yuri turns out to be an okay time.
But if this all sounds familiar, like these words might describe another game with the same qualities, then don’t be surprised. Odds are, this game will feel like another distraction that doesn’t have anything new to add. That’s what it felt like to me. I am charmed by the story of two brothers taking on a challenge together and making an artistic expression of their imagination, but the game feels like any other free mobile pickup on the app store.
The platforming can fail sometimes. The physics try to be as natural as possible, and it succeeds nearly every time, but a couple spots can be completely impassable without skill. In particular, I’m thinking of rocks that seesaw you higher up the canyon, another spot where a log carries you down the river at blinding speeds, and a place where swinging from ropes requires near perfect timing and placement.
The music is sort of a letdown. While each track is themed after its respective level, you’ll be lucky to hear it. Most of the time, levels are void of instruments, instead, resounding crickets, flies, beetles, birds, and nature amuse your ears.
One of the selling points of the game is the exploration. The mystery, though, is not hard to find. You practically walk into it. Strange moments in the levels include being transported into pocket dimensions and then returning to the level. Sometimes, the progression of the level is dependent on finding your way out of the mystery. That doesn’t become exploration as much as it becomes survival.
Anything about the dimensions or the weird doors taking you to random locations add nothing to the overall narrative. It’s easy to put this off as a game with a tiny story. If you really want this game, wait until it’s on super sale. The music and art may be slightly above average in quality, but two hours of distraction isn’t enough for a thirteen dollar price mark.
Review copy generously provided by Ange and Aurélien Potier.
+ It's a short, no story, pure gameplay experience.
+ The challenge dwindles in the medium difficulty range.
+ The artwork is pleasant
+ The music is enjoyable.
- It's pricey, the iOS version is half the price.
- There's nothing new to justify higher dollar.
- Some platforming segments are won by luck, because of their clunky nature.