This is one bizarre but frustrating trip.
From time to time there are games that seem like a product of a fever dream, with their nonsensical atmospheres and downright strange elements. Verlet Swing fits that billing to a T as you fly through the air grappling onto floating moai statues, pizza slices, and giant toilets to name just a few. While I love the bizarre setpieces, I often found latching onto things a frustrating endeavor. Although you can bump up the control stick sensitivity, it still felt too sluggish on some of the trickier stages that require high precision, and even though still possible, it usually resulted in many frustrating deaths.
The objective in each of Verlet Swing’s 100 levels is to reach the sphere at the end by swinging from object to object. This starts off relatively straight forward, but as you progress the challenge is ramped up with new elements and ideas. Most objects and surfaces end your attempt if touched, but bubbles will instead throw you off course, causing a frantic feeling as you hope to recover. Exploding objects can also throw a kink into your plans, once again forcing on-the-fly adjustments. However, the problem is that controller sensitivity doesn’t always match what’s needed to make the quick and accurate movements. On numerous occasions I had to reattempt obstacles with the knowledge of how it plays out and preemptively move the cursor, which never felt as satisfying as being reactionary. This problem is most evident in the latter portion of stages where more precise movement is required.
Many of the levels will not only require properly grappling onto objects but also rely on the use of momentum to make turns around obstructed paths. This is done with the left control stick which allows sideways movement. Mastering when to let go of an object is a critical part of completing stages, especially when in confined spaces such as the tunnel stages. Holding on for a bit too long will result in smashing into the ceiling, but letting go too soon won’t net you enough distance to grab onto the next object. Not all surfaces can be latched onto and there are levels that revolve around this concept by giving anchored points to use instead. Other stages give more freedom by allowing you to grasp whatever objects are presented in the level. I found that being given this freedom was more enjoyable since it offered different solutions instead of a single critical path. This does, of course, cause the issue of accidentally grabbing the wrong object. There are also instances of user error, but on more than a handful of occasions I’d target something and grab onto another object further behind it.
Seeing Verlet Swing in action is certainly a sight to behold because frankly, it’s bonkers. Swinging down a corridor of sliding hotdogs and forks will certainly make bystanders question what in the heck you’re playing. They might just stop watching outright when seeing you grapple onto floating dolphins to land within a giant toilet bowl. Seeing what wacky ideas came next was always a driving force to overcome the obstacle at hand. While the visuals themselves are far from impressive, the weird assortment is what ultimately makes them charming. Global and friend leaderboards for comparing times are available, but the level editor found in the steam version didn’t make the cut for the Switch version.
Verlet Swing is one of the most outlandish games I’ve played in a long time. The presentation is simply delightful in a weird drug-induced kind of way, and seeing what was in store for me next was something that helped push through the frustration that cropped up. The core grapple gameplay is fun, and the levels were generally designed well. However, it’s evident they were designed with mouse and keyboard in mind, especially towards the latter portion of the game. Even after adjusting the controller sensitivity, I couldn’t react on the fly as well as I would have liked, forcing numerous attempts on certain levels. While it isn’t game breaking, it often made what would have been a clever obstacle wear thin and become irritating.