William & Sly

I’ve always been a platform kid at heart.  From the early days of Jet Set Willy, through Sonic and now to Seiklus, there’s no better way to lose me for hours than presenting me with four arrow keys, an expansive world, and some nebulous mission.

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William & Sly continues this tradition of morning-wasting as a charming explore-’em-up, reigniting runestones with some sparkly fairies for no apparent reason.  It’s cute – the graphics are reminiscent of a softer Pekka Kana – yet slightly oppressive in atmosphere, with muted greys and greens accentuated by incidental laments and some stormy sounds of nature.

My favourite aspect of the game is the encouragement to find hidden caverns, the number and size of which I haven’t seen since Panic On Funkotron.  Pushing left or right against many blank walls or ceilings can yield switches, power-ups or collectibles.  Such off-the-beaten path encouragement always grabs me – I’m always the one saying “hang on, why don’t you try that small nook over there” when I’m watching people play anything – and the smooth execution here makes it as fun (and necessary) as the rest of the game.

It’s not without its downsides.  The story doesn’t unfold to much, the final boss seems arbitrary and the ending is abrupt.  Nevertheless, it’s still a great way to waste a morning, so clear one in your diary and get on with it.