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Sometimes I miss simplicity. The biggest budget video games with the highest graphical fidelities vie for the world's attention, with intertwining systems and mechanics mingling together into adventures that lasts for tens, or even hundreds of hours. Sometimes I want to step back from the cutting edge of technology and into something else. Something like The Other Side.
The Other Side is made by just two people: Florian Veltman and Baptiste Portefaix. There is little in the way of introduction before it dumps you straight into the first level. Your only goal is to move a silent, sausage-like character that stands tall with barely any defining features or limbs to a doorway and out of the level, which is accomplished by manipulating a series of interlocking paths using the touchscreen.
Think of it like putting someone on multiple conveyor belts to try and get them to a given destination. You're watching from an isometric perspective, turning the conveyor belts on and off in the required directions, which allows plenty of time to take in the luscious art style, where every color in the palette of The Other Side is muted, but still manages to carry a certain vibrancy.
You'll go back and forth over city rooftops and decrepit woodland scenery, all of which look like a subtle landscape painting. There are no rough edges on the items that adorn the tiles and pathways of The Other Side; only objects like trees, doorways, and fences that are all painted in colors that naturally gel together, with dark blues, browns, reds, greys, and other shades seamlessly meshing level together. There's no getting lost in these paintings due to the relatively rapid nature of level progression, but all of The Other Side's levels have a warm, comforting atmosphere to them.
The Other Side starts off really simple. There'll only be two, maybe three pathways you need to maneuver the character around to reach the end goal. Simplicity can sometimes be deceiving though, and lulling you into overconfidence is what Florian Games does exceptionally well here. Once you're used to the basic mechanics, The Other Side introduces a second character to the mix. Taking charge of another character significantly changes up the dynamic and difficulty of The Other Side—now you'll need to think about the consequences of pushing one character away from their destination.
That's about as far as it goes, though. It's simple, but swiping back and forth to move a character round a series of pathways is so utterly enjoyable. Your character grins as the scenery gently rocks back and forth. It's strangely memorizing.
If there's a catch to The Other Side, it's that the moveable pathways aren't illuminated or outlined on the level. The Other Side encourages trial and error by letting you find out which circuits are where, and which routes overlap. This leaves you to swipe on every area of the level to uncover new pathways for yourself.
The music accompaniment solidifies The Other Side as a small, relaxing journey. From the very moment you boot it up on your phone, there's underlying synths gently pulsating in varied frequencies, never once pausing over the course of your journey.The synths are occasionally punctuated by steadily falling raindrops, adding a further layer of calm to the already sedate experience.
The Other Side is basic in its design and execution, and I love it for that. It only ever has one primary task of getting one or more characters to a doorway, never overcomplicating anything or actively trying to trip you up. Its singular puzzles never once outstay their welcome nor ask too much of you, letting you experiment with pushing and pulling pathways however you want with zero punishment. Florian Games has crafted a meditative experience that asks you to relax and take things at your own pace, hopping in and out of calming puzzler scenarios at your whim. It comes strongly recommended.