In Passing, platforming in a broken mind – First Sip Review

There are times when I take my first sip of games, I like to go into it nearly blind. In passing I might check out the genre to give me an idea of how it will play, but will otherwise just let the game tell its story without any prior knowledge.

I use it as a way to truly judge a game like I might the first chapter of a novel. Did the first line pull me in? Does it keep my interest? How much does it reveal of its story right away? And perhaps more importantly, how much is left out to leave me wondering? Oftentimes, making the player press onward to figure out the mystery is what keeps them engaged.

I started In Passing blindly, and it made the experience even more rewarding. In general, I knew it was a platformer. It started with pretty typical floating rocks in space. Bonus points for the atmosphere being purple (my favorite color). Pretty, but nothing special, right?

In passing gameplay

I was not at all expecting the sudden sharp twist into the story (honestly not having expected a story at all), and it gave me a reason to keep on jumping. I needed to know more, and the only way to get the story was to progress.

The Story – 5/5

The story of In Passing is told to you in the dialogue of two disembodied voices. As you progress, the voices will talk to you, and sometimes to each other. What they have to say is haunting and thought-provoking.

As the description of the game states, this game is simulating the experience of someone with a broken mind. They are trying to piece together the things that have happened to them and therefore make sense of them.

One of my favorite forms of storytelling in video games is via the environment. Not in reading notes left by entities in the game, no, not like that. Instead, I like to see carefully chosen objects placed in the game that only tell you a story if you’re paying attention. The sort of story in that famous quote “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Objects like empty cribs, knocked over wheelchairs, a broken lamp, things that are out of place when you think of why they are there.

In passing gameplay
School desks meld into the environment in In Passing.

In level two of In Passing, suddenly the environment changes. Instead of floating rocks, you are jumping on notebooks, pencils, and bookcases. It gives a Hello Neighbor vibe to me when this happens. The creepy figures in the distance, the vastly out of proportion school supplies. The game has just enough feeling of dread without being overly scary.

Image result for hello neighbor school
The floating school supplies reminds me of the surreal school level in Hello Neighbor, pictured.

But the school themes aren’t the only hints about what’s happening.

The Graphics – 4/5

The graphics of In Passing are impressive for a 3D platformer. Simple, but powerful. You can see the polygons in the trees and on rougher terrain, but in general, the environment is surprisingly smooth. It renders well even when you’re zooming through the level at high speeds. There was some lag, but not often.

To be fair, I could be a little bit biased because purple is my favorite color and the whole game is drenched in purple. The haunting atmosphere and color palette really contribute to the tone of the game. Even the font of the two voices are well chosen.

Image result for in passing cellec games

The Sound 4/5

The sound in In Passing is epic, powerful, and haunting (I’m using those terms a lot, right? Well, it’s true!). All the pieces of this game are in perfect sync with each other, and the sound binds it all together.

Rushing wind when you’re falling. Electric static as projectiles shoot at you. A satisfying thunk when you land. The world feels dangerously real thanks to the creepy sounds of the environment.

The Gameplay 3/5

To start off, the gameplay of In Passing is pretty good. The jumps start out simple and satisfying. But they quickly – and I mean quickly – start feeling almost impossible.

I was playing perhaps 30 minutes when I encountered the first jump that I just could not get. It was some kind of fancy mechanic that did not click with me, I guess. If you blocked the light to the floating rock, it’d disappear. So probably the solution was to do it quickly, but I just couldn’t do it fast enough.

But at that point, I was invested in the story. Luckily the game gives you “wings” you can turn on and off to help you get through the game. Later, I’d find the wall-jumping (wall-sliding?) portions very difficult and would just fly around them.

I’d say that only a professional, hardcore parkour master could get through this game without cheating. The difficulty is high and unapologetic. Kind of like repairing a broken mind.

In Conclusion

Give it a try! There’s so much more here than meets the eye. I would definitely be interested in anything else this developer, CelleC Games, creates. In a world that seems to be outgrowing the simple platformer, this is a great game to get that jumping out of your system.

You can play In Passing for yourself on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1172090/In_Passing/

In Passing Review Summary
  • Story
  • Graphics
  • Sound
  • Gameplay
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