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Review: Yuri – charming hand-drawn platformer

A platformer that plays like the offspring of Limbo and Sonic the Hedgehog

Price: $2.99/£2.99
Size: 223 MB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Developer: Fingerlab

Yuri is a platform game set in a beautiful, eerie forest filled with hand-drawn creatures and swaying vines. The explorer, Yuri, traverses these dangerous landscapes aboard an old bed on wheels, which can somehow jump ravines and hook onto creepers. It’s best not to think too logically and just accept this unusual world for what it is.


The foreground and background elements help build atmosphere

The gameplay takes cues from old-school Sonic the Hedgehog games, offering a choice of zooming through levels at high speeds or slowing down to tackle obstacles more slowly. Do this, and you’ll find collectible fireflies to seek out – although there’s no particular incentive to do so beyond a single Game Center achievement for finding all 1000 in the game. Diligent explorers may also stumble across the occasional secret area, but more than physical rewards it’s worth slowing down just to take in the environment.

Yuri can jump and swing on ropes, but he can’t swim and he can’t fight. You won’t be stomping on bad guys like Super Mario, but they’re still a danger so evasion is important here. There is no penalty for death, though, with frequent checkpoints and instant re-spawns if you mess up. This is a kindness to the player because the ten levels are pretty long and starting from scratch after each death would wear thin quickly. There are occasional physics puzzles – we would have liked to see more – but generally this is a game all about balance.


One of the game’s secrets takes you briefly to space

Graphically, the game’s silhouette-heavy stylings are clearly inspired by games like Limbo and Badland. Though not quite up to those high standards, the mostly hand-drawn artwork is gorgeous, with a handful of little touches which give the game a strong and playful identity. The fact that Yuri whips out a telescope when you hop onto a raft, for example, or that he takes a nap if you stop playing for a while. Though the game looks great throughout, it doesn’t change up its environments or even color schemes in the later levels. You’re going to be looking at blue moonscapes with leafy black silhouettes for the entire ride.

That said, some new elements are introduced each stage, with most of them themed around a new gimmick – you’ll be breaking through spiderwebs in one level and climbing mountains the next, while later levels include floating on the winds or riding downstream. The game feels like a journey and its hard to get bored during the relatively short playtime (1-2 hours.)


Even the menus are nice to look at

The physics in Yuri are a little weird – movements have a tendency to feel a little floaty, while momentum and acceleration feel slightly off at times. Maybe this feeling is heightened by the number of wobbly bits in the environment. That said, the virtual controls are responsive and simple – sideways movement is handled by the left side of the screen, while the right can be tapped to jump. Yuri is compatible with the Apple TV, and not only does it look great on the big screen but it controls nicely on the Siri Remote too. There’s no iCloud sync though, so once you start playing you can’t switch devices.

Each level is scored by an atmospheric soundtrack composed specifically for the game. It sounds great, and suits the tone well, but the music seems to drop in and out almost randomly as you move through the levels. If this was done for effect, it’s an odd choice, leaving you with unnatural silence for chunks of the game.


Giant spiders are par for the course in this type of game

Ultimately, though, this is a game that feels unique despite some obvious influences. It’s got a few handling quirks, but each level provides a new challenge and it’s a blast to play through. More than anything, Yuri provides a fun world to lose yourself in for a couple of hours.