Penumbear Looks Like a Casual Platformer. Then It Tears Out Your Throat.

Aw, look at the little bear. Isn't he cute? Oh my god he's got a little scarf. And look, he's followed around by colorful fireflies. I bet his game is as light and fluffy as his widdle ears. Wait, what's this? These jumps are timed? I've got to do what? Dammit, I'm dead. Again. This is one little bastard of a teddy bear.

Don't let Penumbear's sweet looks fool you—this is not a game for the easily frustrated casual gamer. These 100 levels are classic puzzle platforming, and by classic I mean completely unforgiving and challenging to the point of wanting to fling your iPad against the nearest iPad-breaking thing.

The game's clever name (penumbra plus bear) is backed by even more clever light-based game mechanics. The terrible teddy's firefly friend has the power to turn lights on and off, which goes nicely with Penumbear's ability to walk along the edges of lights and shadows. Switching lights on and off isn't just an ambiance thing—those beams of light are paths to walk or walls to block. Some lights reveal blocks to hop on. Others are the bane of shadowy denizens of the castle our hero is attempting to escape, dissolving them on contact.

When I started Penumbear I expected something light and fluffy, aimed at the less-skilled gamer. While early levels met that expectation, soon I was faced with some of the toughest platforming challenges I'd face in years. The introduction of blinking lights was particularly brutal. Those precisely-timed jumps caught me so off-guard I had to put the game down to keep my cool.

And then I went back, because no damn teddy bear is going to make me look the fool, even if he does have a snuggly-buggly nose and dashing scarf.

Penumbear

Penumbear Looks Like a Casual Platformer. Then It Tears Out Your Throat.
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Developer: Taco Graveyard
  • Platform: iOS
  • Price: $1.99
Get Penumbear on iTunes