The Golden Child of Indie platforming. FUMIKO!

Dropped in the deep end.
At least it feels like that time your mom got tired of your s**t and hammer tossed your butt into the pool sans floaties. Or did that only happen me? Traumatic childhood aside Fumiko! does drop you right into the world with NO prelude. None of that pretentious “menu” or any of that. NOPE. *BAM* GAME. Now go play and don’t mess with the power main.. I’m making margaritas.

Deeper, longer and a bit more satisfying.
When I put in the title ‘Golden Child’ it’s not click bait. This is what I’ve wanted from a 3D platformer for a while now. The game plays a lot like Dawn. If you’ve not played Dawn go give it a try now. It’s a freebie title on Steam. The game starts you in a 3D environment you can explore that HAPPENS to have some portals you can use to resume a previous game. You can also access a pause menu. The menu is intentionally jarring and out of place. As if you’re not supposed to be able to do that. This makes exploring it that much more tantalizing. Not only does the menu let you get into the options but also provides you with a log and a list of objectives. Save for escaping the sandbox and leaving Kronos server the world is open and the verticality is mind blowing.

Joined at the hip.
The game’s mechanics and art style are so intertwined that to critique one is to critique both. Compared to other avatars present Fumiko’s character model is more advanced but also markedly more petite. The impression I got was an innocent and almost childish creature in a mature body. As if all that she learns is really just her consciousness tapping into her body’s version of muscle memory. Like an amnesiac. They know how to do things but sometimes don’t know how they learned it. Since she’s so small she’s faster and lighter. However her figure is what I refer to as ‘The Professor’ cuz dat booty SCHOOLED somebody. The environments have a resource light design which makes traversing these zones seemingly difficult for most but for Fumiko its just a stroll through a theme park. As you read dialogs you’ll find yourself moving the camera to get a better view. This is something the game encourages in actual dialog. While someone would pick at this as an issue (and claim the dialog is just a cheeky excuse to be lazy) it’s well interrogated as an intentional game design mechanic. Fumiko needs to be aware of her surroundings at all times.

Vertical Musicality.
There’s a lot of ambiance here. I hate to say any of it mismatches but when a track starts playing for the first time it might take a bit to associate your situation to it. This only happens in certain situations and feels intentional. Just like the pause menu. It seems wrong for a reason. Sometimes the musical cue is too late to really warn you of what is going on. But that’s part of the process of learning to be Fumiko. As much as you are learning about her, her environment and the events that brought you together she is learning too. The music encouraged me to be patient but also instigated me to act depending on context. One of the early levels has a graphically doretstid feel but the music is deceptively calm. Read it again. It’s distorted. It’s a trap. Someone is waiting for you to take the bait and has gone so far as to manipulate how Fumiko perceived that area. Since it would be too resource intensive to manipulate the appearance they changed the music on you instead. Walking too far in one direction will even glitch your screen for a second.

A story you have to earn.
This is a game that reward you for being skilled. That’s not to say someone can’t casually pick it up and eventually git good. That’s actually a rather reasonable prospect. Literally anyone can run this game and improve quickly with mere trial and error. Hardcore players have the added challenge of finding hidden memories that may or may not be Fumiko’s own. Up until the first major hub world you interact with ethereal dialogs that guide you. How many other voices can intrude into Fumiko’s consciousness? Rather than who; What is Fumiko? Where have all the memories gone and why were they missing? Were they misplaced or taken? When will her world make sense again? In the end this game is either brilliant or accidentally awesome. I’m willing to bet 7 bucks on the answer. That’s the price on Steam btw. Considering how layered it feels the price feels just right.

When measured against main stream titles she still holds a very honorable 3 out of 5 stars.
If you’re looking for another silly romp in a punny/cartoony universe you’re better trying elsewhere. There are funny moments so I’d give that aspect 2 out of 5.
This is no Rare platformer. Fumiko really expects you to make those shenanigans for yourself.

As an indie title, when gathering up all aggregates and delivering a score.. I feel compelled to give FUMIKO! a 98 out of 100 as an experience I enjoyed.

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