Review | Harold
When I first previewed Harold in 2012, I noted that it was a gorgeous looking game and found myself hooked on the platforming premise. Now nearly three years later, I still find myself enjoying the 2D platform-racer from Moon Spider Studio.
For those that have never heard of the game, you are taking on the role of a guardian angel-in training, who has been asked to watch over a lanky nerd named Harold, who also happens to be a marathon runner. It is your task to ensure that Harold is able to not only complete his races but also to win them at all costs. That means making the other competitors falls into pits, shocking them with lightning bolts and anything else at your disposal.
Since you are the guardian angel, you actually don’t have direct control over Harold, as he runs by himself, but you do make him jump, though for the most part, it’s the manipulation of the environment that allows Harold to make it to the finish line. Things like moving platforms, eliminating mirages (in the desert level), will allow Harold to keep advancing, while collecting golden rings will give him a speed burst for a short period of time. It should also be noted that the game requires a controller, so don’t expect to be using a keyboard at all.
For the first few races, the game isn’t too difficult, as you’ll be learning how to play as you go along, and quite frankly, it’s a lot of trial and error. Fortunately, when Harold does die, you respawn nearby and don’t lose much time, though you’ll get taken back to the start of the race if you die too much. Where the game gets addicting is in the aforementioned trial and error, and given that you’re not only trying to beat the A.I., but you’re on the clock. As you get better and quicker with reflexes, the experience begins to shine as the levels get tougher. You’ll need to assess the situations quickly to keep Harold on his feet, though I can see how the constant traps and obstacles may frustrate some gamers.
In fact, unless you’re Jimmy Woods from The Wizard (1989), you’re going to fail all the time, and probably shout out a few curse words in the process. If you’re the kind of gamer who gets angry at infinite runner games on mobile platforms, you’re going to get heated by the midway point of the game. Again, the game is very challenging the further you go, so perhaps a break here and there can maintain your sanity.
As for the best part of the game, the animations and artwork are absolutely gorgeous. The game puts players in environments such as a jungle, the beach, in the snow and in the desert, and each of these environments looks like something out of a Disney film. As I mentioned in my 2012 preview, the developer’s art team does include folks from studios like Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks. I could literally just sit there and enjoy the animations without paying too much attention to the game at times, and the sound, voice acting and music itself is also top notch (this team needs to work on more games).
If you enjoy platformers that aren’t shy about providing a challenge, and perhaps also dig infinite runner-style games, then Harold will provide some good times and a few laughs. It’s beautiful to look at and carries with it plenty of charm. Just remember to take deep breaths in between the deaths and respawns.
Final Score: 4 out of 5