Title: Selma and the Wisp
Developer: Toucan Studio
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Genre: Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 31/05/2019
Price: £8.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
A game about childhood fears, namely the dark. Set in a strange and nightmarish world filled with pop culture references, many of which would be unrelatable for poor Selma, especially given her age both in terms of years and time.
It’s evident from the start that the developers are fans of classic horror, and when boiled down, there is no doubt that Selma is a horror game. Play as Selma, a young girl, left alone in her bedroom after dark. When nightmares come calling, you need to follow the wisp as it will lead you through the darkness and back into the light.
The game is a beautiful looking low-poly design. Each level or chapter looks different, and while the gameplay itself is mostly the same, there is something to be remarked at in each area. From killer clowns and famous serial killers to searchlights and floods, there are a plethora of things that haunt the dark, and all of them are waiting to take a bite and claim the flesh of the innocent.
Given that this is a game about the fear of the dark, you can expect every level to be dark, not only in theme but in lighting. That is a core element of the gameplay. That being said, there is never any moment when you find yourself struggling to see or figure out what lays ahead.
The music and sound effects in the game are minimal, and while for many titles that may prove to be a hindrance, in Selma is works to the game’s benefit. The atmosphere plays a bit-part role in games of this ilk, and the occasional use of sounds heighten the sense of trepidation, especially if playing with headphones. The only gripe with the sound was the utterly grating noise that was supposed to be a storm during one of the later chapters. It was, to be frank, irritating and overpowering. It could be that this was intentional, but it came close to breaking the immersion and certainly detracted from the experience.
The gameplay in Selma and the Wisp is clever. If you have played games like Limbo, Inside or even Black: The Fall, then you will have an idea of the style of gameplay: predominantly side-scrolling, puzzle-filled chapters with intermittent platforming. The platforming element is there not to add complexity but rather to act merely as a vehicle for progression.
The core elements of the gameplay are the puzzles and the controls. The puzzles, while well thought out, seem to level out after the first cycle, meaning once you have encountered the core set of puzzles, they will repeat throughout the game. They are presented in different ways each time, but the base mechanic stays the same. A light explosion, or finding a hidden item are the core considerations alongside a timing mechanic that seems to be the same pace throughout.
The controls of the game are what sets it apart from other titles of this ilk. While Selma is the title character, you never actually play as her. You play as the wisp, and wherever you go, Selma will follow.
Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, it gets tougher. Sometimes you need to tell Selma to stay put while you solve a puzzle of gathered extra light resources to stop your power from diminishing. This is always a trade-off, as stay away for too long and panic will sink in, and Selma will die.
This adds a nice level of complexity to things, however, often the controls felt a little unstable, and you would find yourself all too easily in the wrong place. This is particularly relevant for the platforming areas, where jumping or climbing requires multiple inputs to be recognized but results in the wisp being too far away. It’s only a minor irritation but an irritation none the less.
The puzzles were fun, but it was the moments where you needed to stray from Selma or were separated and needed to navigate certain spaces to get back to your dark-fearing ward that was even better.
Unless you are interested in bettering your own run time or trying the different difficulties, there is no real reason to pick up this game for a second playthrough. The puzzles and the thought process needed to plan your movements are what provide a large portion of the entertainment, and once you know what they are, a certain degree of enjoyment is lost. It doesn’t make it a poor game, but it does make it one that you will play and archive all before your midmorning coffee.
Selma and the Wisp is a game that comes close to a really enjoyable experience but ultimately falls short of being anything more than a nice way to pass an hour two.
The game is lovely to look at, and the somewhat abstract background threats and scenery conjure up a dream/nightmare-like state. Unfortunately, the levels are too short and the difficulty, while increasing, does so at such a pace that normal mode should take little more than 90 minutes to play – even for someone with little experience in puzzle solving games.
The hit-and-miss mechanics and the fact that a lot of the puzzles followed a similar pattern also detracts from the final product. It is still a solid game for what it is, and worth picking up.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Selma and the Wisp on the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Selma-and-the-Wisp-1568094.html#Overview