Review: Himno

Himno is a game of many levels. There are the character levels Himno goes up by exploring, dashing and collecting sparkly gems along the way. There are also the many physical levels you jump up and descend to find the exit to each "District", lighting torches to reveal more of the world. Then there are level wisps that you find from time to time, collect those (assuming your level is the same or higher) and you get a special power like extra jumping height and much more.

That's a lot to absorb from this ambient adventure where there's no real plot, no real goal and the only way you can die is by falling into the water at the bottom of each level. Exploration of the procedurally generated levels is done through jumps, wall jumps, wall hangs, dashes and using rising platforms to find the exit portal, that can be anywhere on the level.

The worst of these exits are by the water margin, often through a tiny gap, as you can risk a high level for a few tricky jumps to get there, with the slightly fidgety controls likely to fail you at the wrong moment. If you do get stuck, or don't want to risk instant death, you can teleport back to the start and try and find a different route.

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the game is you can't look down to see what's below - turning you into a foolhardy leaper or a total coward, as the sound of the lapping water gets louder.

All the while, you are leveling up and maybe wondering what the hell is going on? But the game gives no real clues. Why does Himno have a sword if he/she never uses it? Why are the wisps here, what's the purpose of the garden at the start? Where did all the lights go? Or what powers the crazy bouncing lightning that can propel you across the level.

I do like Himno, with its great atmospherics and evolving ambient soundtrack, but a hint of justification for these actions would have been lovely. Also, one minute you can be bouncing along the level quite happily with a great sense of achievement, and suddenly one mistimed jump or failed action sees you plummeting away to the depths, or sometimes you just can't find a way to the finish and feel very deflated, which prevents the game getting a higher score.

The game is also very dark, hard to play on a Vita OLED in the daylight. I tried it on the PS4 and the controls feel more responsive and there's less of a light issue, but you would lose the gorgeous glows on the Vita's OLED.

Between this and Legend of the Skyfish, the Vita's indie credentials have had a good boost in recent weeks, here's hoping it continues.

Score: 7/10
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Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Breakfast Studio/Grab the Game/Ratalaika
File size 123MB
Progress:  Platinum
(review code provided)