“Every blessing becomes a curse.” – Paul Coelho
Antivine is an emotive puzzle platformer in which a unique boy and a girl who has lost her memory traverse the stunning but treacherous Chengying Plain in search of answers.
Developer: Regeneration Studio
Released: 21st December 2022
Available on: Steam
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
Antivine follows a young boy named Senhsu who, on account of his differences, is ostracised by his village after his mother passes on his 16th birthday. Like all of their kind when she aged and stopped moving, she turned into a motionless berry-bearing treeman that would provide food for the rest of the village. Having been told this was a blessing from the Gods, Senhsu now wonders if it is in fact a curse. Upon setting out on his journey he soon finds a lost little girl with a broken memory, her name is Mumei and they continue on together.
The narrative is emotionally charged and attention-grabbing right from the start and it tells a beautiful tale overall. Unfortunately, the immersion was broken somewhat by frequent typos and translation errors. Usually, these were easy to decipher but on rare occasions, it did cause some uncertainty of meaning.
Antivine has a very casual place and introduces its numerous mechanics gradually. It consists of dioramas that must be manipulated in order for Senhsu and Mumei to cross them and progress. There are things like movable plants, and buttons to be pressed but the key principle is changing the perspective to alter the way things appear and create paths using these aforementioned facilities. There are also obstacles such as changing tides and carnivorous plants, though death is relatively unpunishing and will, at worst, restart the level. The puzzles are very satisfying and increase in difficulty at a very manageable pace. The conundrums do get a bit tricky later on in the game but in a way that challenges the player without being frustrating.
The visuals in this game are beautiful with vibrant and atmospheric 3D dioramas interspersed with monochromatic hand-drawn cutscenes. There is enough detail in both to tell the story and bring the Chengying Plain to life for the player. Similarly, the music is stunning and evocative featuring gentle piano, strings and captivating vocals that change with the setting and story, really helping with immersion.
Overall, Antivine is a wonderful example of a narrative-focused puzzle platformer that will take around 2-4 hours to complete. Its beautiful aesthetic and stunning sound design really elevate the satisfying gameplay and emotive narrative to create a truly special experience. Players will need to look past a few spelling mistakes but apart from that it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.
If you’re looking for more puzzle platformers, you might also like these reviews:
Altero – A Challenging and Atmospheric Puzzle Platformer – Arise: A Simple Story – A Time Manipulation Puzzle-Platformer with Heart! – One Hand Clapping: Sing Your Way Through this Brand New Adventure!