Now That’s What I Call a Sticky Situation!
A man is sitting quietly in his living room, scrolling mindlessly through Facebook when, without warning, he hears a faint buzzing. A fly has flown in through the open window. It circles his head, buzzes his ear, meanders around the room for a few seconds, and lands comfortably on his leg. He stares it a for a moment, contemplating his options. Finally, he makes his decision. That fly must be swatted. His conscious mind sends this signal from its place of origin in his brain to his free hand.
That signal is you.
It is your job to traverse the straight and narrow path from the subject’s brain, through his ear, face, throat, armpit (for some reason), and elbow, to finally, his hand. It is not a quick and easy journey, however. Along the way, you will have to contend with tricky jumps, pools of water, toxic sludge, rotating platforms, seemingly unbreakable walls, objects that will only move via an electrical signal, and spikes. Your only tool for bypassing these obstacles is a sticky membrane that is fired in square-shaped dots from the pointed end of your head.
This membrane travels in a consistent velocity and parabola based on the angle you shoot it. It can only adhere to black, fuzzy surfaces, and it is susceptible to the same laws of gravity and motion as you and the things around you. When a strand gets too long, it will start to bend, bow, and wobble. If you or an object are on the strand as it’s moving, you’ll be flung like a catapult. It’s also a really good conductor, allowing electrical currents to pass through any connected strands.
It’s not all so easy, however, because if any of the membrane comes into contact with the yellow spikes scattered throughout the levels, it will immediately break the strand. You also have a limited amount of membrane per level. But all is not lost, because any dots that become separated can be recollected if you’re close enough. You also have the ability to shoot an unlimited number of your own yellow spikes in any direction. This allows you not only to break off membrane no longer in use to replenish your supply, and shorten strands that are too long, but also move objects that you cannot physically reach, like the green balls required for some levels.
There are no enemies, per se, and there is no time limit, so you can take as long as you need to figure out the best and/or most efficient path to the exit. If you run out of membrane, paint yourself into a corner, or simply find yourself unable to complete your masterful plan, you can reset the level at any point by pressing L and R simultaneously.
Most of the levels are pretty easy. In fact, I probably blew through almost half of them without much thought or challenge. Though some of them left me scratching my head and begging the developer for tips (which can be found on his website). Even after knowing the best strategy, it’s the bonus items that are tricky. Each level has two optional items that you can go out of your way to collect which will unlock various extra features.
The game topped off at about five hours for me, and that includes at least a couple of hours banging my head against a wall from some of the puzzles. For a pretty simple game, I don’t feel it’s lacking in longevity, and there are easily at least a couple more hours to be played for completion’s sake. Replay value is moderate, as the solution to every puzzle is unique to the player, so another play through could yield different results, and experimention is encouraged. However, the levels themselves don’t change, so don’t expect a New Game+ or anything like that.
Membrane is a more than competent puzzle-platformer with a unique concept and tight mechanics. Its short levels are perfect for pick up and play in handheld mode, while exploring everything it has to offer can easily take up hours of your time. Some of the solutions can be obtuse, and the game doesn’t do much to teach you the more specialized techniques, but a handy online guide should help push you in the right direction. I wavered a bit on my final score, as I don’t think Membrane is for everyone; but I don’t think it would be misleading to say that, if you’re into this type of game, Membrane scores a somewhat generous 4/5. *However, if you’re unsure if Membrane is for you, take my recommendation with a grain of salt, and maybe wait for a discount on its $9.99 price tag before you take a shot at it.