Sometimes you just have to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks…including your own body! Youropa is an absolute mishmash of ideas, some of which subvert the genre of platforming as a whole while others just feel out of place.
Coherence is far from the game’s strong suit, but it’s an enjoyable few hours of wall crawling, paint slinging, gravity defying fun.
Mais Oui, Mes Amis
Taking place within the shattered, floating streets above a broken Paris, your goal is to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower. Exactly why or how this will solve matters isn’t really addressed. I’m not sure Danish developers Frecle have ever been to Paris, but their wild interpretation gives way to some interesting level design.
Your suction feet will keep you firmly attached to the floor, and you can traverse onto different planes via any curved surface. Gravity always acts downwards though, so if you jump while upside down you’re gonna quickly find yourself falling through space.
Paint me Like One of Your French Girls
One of the first things you’re introduced to in the game is the ability to paint and decorate your character in any way you like. Your health is represented by your level of paint, and each knock will see you lose some from your head down to your toes. Rain will wash it off and the same rules apply to the few enemies that appear.
You can even pick up a can of spray paint and just go to town over any surface. It’s a cool set of mechanics that allows for a lot of expression and messing around.
Normally a staple of the genre, a simple jump is one of the last abilities you will earn in the game. Instead you’ll need to learn to navigate with your own two feet, initially just being able to pick up objects and kick them.
With a beautiful horizon in the background, each level is a treat to explore while seeking out all of the hidden elements. One of my favourite parts of the visuals is how the levels connect together, snapping in and out of a world map styled upon the metro system.
Puzzles are reminiscent of scenes from the film Inception, often taking you upside down and in seemingly impossible directions. None of them prove to be too strenuously brain teasing, but there is plenty of variety throughout.
These Suction Cups Were Made For Walking
I will say that the game lives and dies by its physics engine though. It’s not quite clear enough – in a lot of cases – which direction gravity is currently acting in, and sometimes dead enemies will spawn just to fall off the edge and die to spawn again.
In one case, this happened up until the game crashed. Some levels that have you effectively sliding over oil slick should be the most fun in the game, but instead become slightly infuriating as their rules of momentum seem illogical to say the least.
Falling from even a low height can lead to taking damage, which just feels wrong when you’re making the intended jump. Dying seems to have no major drawbacks other than making you load slightly further back than, and levels are small enough that you’re never backtracking very far.
Some systems seem to have a guiding hand to help them along (such as kicking a ball at a target), but one level had me rage quit multiple times because a box I had to catch was thrown in a different direction each time.
Pass or Bust?
Ultimately, a lack of narrative and cohesion is what stops Youropa from being a great game instead of just a good one. If there was any explanation for who I am, what happened to the world, who the enemies are, why paint is the world’s lifeblood, how I can walk on walls, why mixtapes and graffiti are the collectibles, then it would make the experience feel whole.
I enjoyed my time with the interesting ideas that Youropa presented, but it was hard to feel invested while feeling so lost! If you want to give it a go, this indie game is currently available – on Steam – for about 21$ USD or your regional equivalent!