In recent years the world has become quite saturated with indie 2D platformers. The constant struggle to stand above the competition leads most to utilize unique features or visual styles, and Ibb and Obb does both. Developer Sparpweed throws players into an abstract, psychedelic world where gravity has gone haywire. The end result can be loads of fun, but just be sure to bring a friend.
At its core, Ibb and Obb is a cooperative 2D platformer. The two players, aptly named Ibb and Obb, can push each other about, use each other as platforms; all the normal things you’d expect. However, dividing the screen horizontally is a border, which breaks the screen into two contrasting worlds – each of which gravitate toward said border. When running on top, the game functions like any other platformer. When below, gravity is reversed, preventing the little blobs from plummeting to their doom.
New features and obstacles are progressively thrown in your path, including some very basic enemies, and barriers only one player can pass through. The game soon takes on a 2D Portal vibe, as concepts like transferring momentum become key, and then continues to evolve from there. No matter the puzzle, precise cooperation is key. Much like other similar experiences, Ibb and Obb drops players into what are essentially elaborate Rube Goldberg machines, in which the two players are key components.
They are often required to, quite literally, act as a single unit, using each other as leverage to overcome obstacles. When this works, the effect is wonderfully satisfying. After an hour or so, the gravity reversal becomes second nature, with constant visual cues keeping your orientation in check. The only possible problem is the communication required to parse through these puzzles. Playing with strangers online can often bring things to a grinding halt, as one or both parties involved simply cannot understand the current solution.
Even without voice chat, players can draw illuminated paths on screen to aid their fellow blob. But being able to describe, or better yet physically point out a possible solution is unimaginably easier. By far the best way to play Ibb and Obb is with a friend locally. Online can work, but voice chat will be your best friend. One should not expect the single-player to warrant a purchase alone.
It’s not that the single-player campaign is bad; it’s essentially the same game. But that itself is the problem. Playing solo requires you to control both Ibb and Obb with one controller, with each colorful little oddity mapped to one joystick. Now just imagine that for a second; controlling two individual and independent characters with each thumb. The end result can be staggeringly difficult. For example, at one point I had to navigate part of a puzzle with one thumb, while constantly dodging a never-ending barrage from a pesky buzz saw with the other. It was like rubbing my stomach and patting my head to the tenth degree.
That being said, I’m not trying to scare you off the product. When playing with a friend, as I assume the developers intended, Ibb and Obb is great fun in a gorgeous multicolored 2D landscape. Playing alone is possible, but it becomes unbearably hard late in the game. Ignoring the problems with solo play, the sights and sounds of Ibb and Obb are consistently amazing.
Ethereal tones and calming beats draw players into a delightfully unreal world. There’s almost nothing harsh about Ibb and Obb, aside from a few spikes in difficulty. New levels bring with them differing color schemes, but each has the same abstract core design. Alien creatures and vegetation mix with other assorted randomness to create a foreign yet serene setting. Ibb and Obb is pleasant, plain and simple. But again, this alone is not worth the price of admission.
Certain games are designed with very specific play-styles in mind. Ibb and Obb is one of those games. While playing through the game solo is possible, I don’t recommend it. With that in mind, if you have a friend or two willing to drop the cash, or better yet someone to play locally, the game is definitely worthwhile. The end result will be a charming romp through a brightly colored world, with a few mind bending twists thrown in for good measure.
Ibb and Obb was developed and published by Sparpweed. A PSN copy was provided for review purposes.