I will say this upfront: She Remembered Caterpillars is unlike any other game I have played. It only takes a handful of levels to truly appreciate how different and delightful it all is, being both peaceful and perplexing, soothing and stressful. I’ve spent hours playing it, and I’m still thinking about it.
The game itself takes place in a ‘fungipunk’ landscape, which, honestly, might be the greatest description of anything ever. You take control of little sprite-like creatures known as gammies, who come in a distinctive range of colours and shapes. As the gammies, you have to navigate various obstacle-filled levels, getting each of your respective gammies to a white launch pad. On paper, this is simple enough, but She Remembered Caterpillars is deceptively challenging.
It starts light enough, not giving you any instruction or hand-holding, allowing you to get a feel for the world and the sprites that inhabit it, learning quickly how the level’s various hurdles must be passed. It’s massively trial and error with every level, but Caterpillars never lets you settle into a natural rhythm, with each new chapter amping up the difficulty, bit by bit, adding new sprites and hardships to beat.
You’ll begin out with a red and blue gammie and basic level design, like colour coordinated caterpillar bridges, for example. Naturally, the blue gammie can cross the blue bridge, and vice versa for the red. Soon after, though, She Remembered Caterpillars throws in a welcome curveball where you can combine different coloured gammies: red and blue will make purple, blue and yellow will make green, and so on.
With these new combinations, you’ll be able to cross new bridges but additionally, have to think twice as hard about how to get certain gammies to certain parts of the level. Also present are coloured gateways, but these offer a different challenge where the same coloured gammie is unable to pass through. Don’t let this explanation deter you. The game’s instructions are all effectively communicated through colours and, honestly, it’s all the better for it.
It’s this increasing layer of complexity and head-scratching that makes each new chapter a treat, although sometimes you will take one look at a level (a red, blue and yellow gammie along with an orange, blue and purple bridge, as an example) and spend a few minutes squinting at the screen, wondering what the hell it is you should even begin to do to start. As She Remembered Caterpillers progressed, and the levels become gradually harder and harder, I found myself doing this a lot. There were times when I would mindlessly run my gammies around and stumble into a solution, and others where a jolting brain-wave would strike me and crack the code, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t met by a massive sense of pride with each level I passed. No matter how tricky it becomes, and it will, She Remembered Caterpillars always finds a way to feel incredibly rewarding every single time you crack a puzzle.
In between the puzzles, however, is an underlying story of love and loss. The beginning of each chapter will offer some text to read, all of which amounts to an on-going story of a parent and child that unravels slowly but surely. Admittedly, it’s a bit obscure at first, but when the pieces start coming together, it is just as compelling and beautiful as the puzzles it compliments. My only slight critique is that, for the less puzzle-orientated player, you can spend so much time on one chapter that it is easy to forget the dialogue between them and the game, unfortunately, doesn’t have an option to read the pieces individually without going back into the specific level.
The design of She Remembered Caterpillars is, in a word, gorgeous. From the gammie design and the background of just about any given level to the music and sound design, every detail feels so well-constructed and organic to the world. The microbial aesthetic, visually and audibly, is gloomy and strange, yet also holds a mysterious and magical quality to it.
With She Remembered Caterpillars, you can spend a great deal of time intricately mapping out each level or just about chance onto a solution, but, either way, the feeling of happiness is always the same. It has been created with love and fantastic attention to detail, which pours through every new chapter, from the design to the story and puzzles. I said earlier that it’s unlike any game I have ever played, and I stand by that – it’s abstract, unique, challenging, bizarre and so very charming in equal measure.
It has one or two niggles, yes, but these are such minor points. With an aesthetic and difficulty that will both enthrall and test, She Remembered Caterpillars is more than the sum of its parts.
She Remembered Caterpillars is great puzzle game with a deep story and engaging, ambitious, and colourful obstacles to test you. Simply put, it is one of the best puzzle games in years.