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The beauty of indie gaming rests on the developers having the ability to take risks, make statements and create experiences. Unfortunately, the ugly nature of indies is always right around the corner rearing its head. Exposure. Indies thrive and die on word of mouth and coverage. In an age where games are released with a cadence most are unable to keep up with exceptional titles often fall by the wayside buried under a sea of remasters, rehashes and the new flavour of the week. Himno is one such title that deserves your attention.
David Moralejo Sanchez has crafted a platforming experience that while borrowing heavily from other titles, becomes its own experience that you should not miss. After the initial load screen (all 45 seconds of it) players are awakened in a world that seems familiar but wholly unique. Greeted by an onscreen controls layout, you are given no story or directions. After a few minutes of exploration, trying out the buttons, it became apparent that this was an adventure I as the player was tasked with telling. Touted as a non-violent platformer, Himno is all of that while also serving as an allegory of sorts for the player. Often while traversing the levels in search of the hidden wisps lurking in the darkness, my mind would wander. Usually, this would be a gigantic negative, as this would be indicative of the games inability to grip the player or draw them in deeply. However, with Himno, the lack of any real threat (outside of falling into the water) affords the player the opportunity to ultimately relax and let their own mind begin to work out things. Soon I was working through situations in my own life as I was simultaneously navigating the never-ending districts in need of light. This feeling was achieved by the harmonious blend of simple pixel graphics coupled with a vibrant score that that can almost act as a companion as you progress through the procedurally generated districts.
The music swells as you reach new heights, filling your ears with ominous yet soothing notes that wouldn’t feel out of place in a cyber punk inspired world. Little sound cues alert the player when they have found or are near hidden wisps that not only light up the area. The lack of combat or interaction with others means a complete lack of additional sounds. This does not deter from the game as, again, the accompanying score and natural sound effects fill any voids.
Speaking of voids Himno at its core is a point ‘A’ to ‘B’ platformer that has you navigating random voids and chasms trying to find the exit while avoiding the long descent to the water below. The beauty lies within the procedurally generated maps. While often a point of contention among players, the ever-changing design fits this title perfectly. Jumping is fluid and can be augmented via the wisps that are collected. Some give you the ability to jump to extreme heights while others offer the brief ability to glide as you traverse larger and larger gaps. When you plummet your watery end (and you will many times over) the zero load time eases you back into the harsh reality that the collection of wisps are gone. However, awakening in the Wisp Garden offers the player an opportunity to select any one of the collected wisps to start the new run.
Given the simplistic nature of the title, you would be remiss to think that it didn’t have staying power. Himno, while lacking an online leaderboard does do an admirable job of stat tracking. However, the core gameplay and the addicting loop created by searching for hidden wisps will have players returning not just for that one more run, but many more runs to be sure. Himno hits a sweet spot in not requiring the focus and dedication of an RPG yet always calls you back as you know the only reason you restarted is because of an error in judgment on your part.
Himno was a surprising breath of fresh air. The dynamic sound design elevates a peaceful platformer into a must-play experience. While it is certainly the sole opinion of this reviewer, the game as a whole package was able to lead me to a certain catharsis within my own life while I wall jumped, dashed and glided my way higher and higher up the districts. David Moralejo Sanchez is to be commended for creating an experience that is able to reach outside the confines of a game and speak directly to the player through trials and tribulations you experience on your own unique journey… both in and out of the game.
TBG Score: 9/10
Platform: Steam, PlayStation 4, PSVita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 06/09/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Platformer
Developer: David Moralejo Sánchez
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop