REVIEW – Psyscrolr (Wii U)

Psyscrolr is an episodic platformer game on Wii U in which you control a boy who fell into his kinetic powers — perhaps by fate? Accompanied by “the voice,” you travel through several short levels fighting to understand yourself and your abilities. Are you ready for this adventure?

Psyscrolr was developed by Jonathan Meyer, Scott Hitchcock, and Jared Cohen as an episodic side-scrolling platformer that frequently gets too hard for its own good. The art and audio direction of the game is a perfect match for the story and how it’s told. Although, it’s clear the control schemes are not completely explained. The game has several technical problems that impede the controls and makes the already difficult enemies more difficult to deal with.

The aesthetics of the game are well done, from storytelling to the art direction, to the sound and music. You get a prologue in the beginning of the game to give you the backstory of your character, which is narrated by “the voice” of your powers. Throughout the four levels (each with several stages), the voice will frequently give you advice. Often, the purpose of these suggestions is to make the game easier. The music is fitting for the levels and sounds absolutely beautiful. The art style is really flat and simple, and I like it. Each level is different, depicting a different time of the day as per how the is story is told. The story is great, too, and combined with the beautiful music and art direction, the game is a very interesting experience.


The controls and technical problems of Psyscrolr, though, make it unnecessarily hard to play without a high level of patience. The first problem I had was the delay between the time you pressed the attack button and when you actually attacked. The same thing happened if you used the touchscreen (as intended) to play. The game feels incredibly awkward to play with jump mapped to the L-button and B-button. Meanwhile, attacks are mapped to the touchscreen or the right analog stick for your projectile and Y-button for your melee attack. I often died because of mistiming with these bad controls. You are expected to do some obvious touchscreen mechanics that includes moving objects. I found myself frequently restarting levels simply because I placed a block in an awkward position — usually because it collided and fused with an object you can’t move. Animations for the characters and objects stuttered a lot, which is very noticeable when moving. The controls and technical problems are something to behold, but with patience you can overcome them.

Lastly, enemies and obstacles were completely unfair, which made most of the platforming elements needlessly hard. I have played through the game two times — once when it first released and once when the patch addressing many original problems came out. Both times, and in the same places, I always got hit due to the same problem: unfair enemies. There are wolves that travel back and forth that you have to time just right with the delay to kill. I died frequently to these and this tree enemy that constantly throws sticks. The game also has several obstacles that were placed in weird paths that makes it difficult to jump around.

Overall, Psyscrolr is an ambitious episodic platformer with a tendency to become difficult too quickly. The controls are a major issue, creating more problems than they should. Enemies are extremely unfair, and combined with the delayed controls, it creates an artificial difficulty spike. Its audio and visuals are well worth the low price of admission, though. You can actually purchase the soundtrack separately, and I highly recommend it. If you have a chance to play this game, however, at a reduced price, I highly recommend it simply for the audio and visuals.