Although the bizarre concept behind Headlander was enough to tempt me, it was the beautifully absurd teaming of Double Fine and Adult Swim Games that put the cherry on top. Why wouldn’t I be excited? One is a development house, for whom creativity is its stock in trade, and the other is a very open, controversy ignoring publisher.

Headlander is a 2.5D metroidvania which places you in the shoes or lack-thereof ,of the last known human being in the galaxy. A galaxy in which mankind has collectively decided to upload their consciousness to a world spanning, cloud storage, agreeing to sacrifice their physical bodies for an endless pursuit of self satisfaction and of course, survival.

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the sinister AI Methuselah goes rogue and decides to imprison the human consciousness in the very vessels they chose over their old bodies

However, the sinister AI Methuselah goes rogue and decides to imprison the human consciousness in the very vessels they chose over their old bodies, robots. As the last human being, or part of it at least, you must tackle the adversities launched your way and defeat Methuselah, all by quite literally using your head.

If you think that the premise alone sounds good, you will be relieved to know that the actual gameplay uses it to an even more amusing extent. The basic game sees you either controlling your head, sealed in an astronaut’s helmet, mobilised by a rocket or using it to suck out a robot heads in order to hijack their bodies. Different bodies grant you with different attributes that each help you overcome different obstacles in a puzzle, all of which are meticulously designed.

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the game wants you to think of each situation as a puzzle

The civilian body is fairly mundane and exists solely for traversal, while the guard bodies are a bit more exciting to control, giving you different range of weapons and access dependent on their colour. Speaking of weapons, combat plays a vital role in the game, where you use all sorts of weapons, cover and melee attacks to easily dispatch guards. The combat is far from generic though, as the bullets ricochet and deflect off certain objects, reminding you that the game wants you to think of each situation as a puzzle.

You can expect to follow a pattern throughout the game, sidetracking every now and then to find collectables or upgrade modules which imbue you with different abilities allowing you to jump over different hurdles, some of which unlock areas you may have been barred from early in the game, encouraging you to backtrack.

Now the pattern part may sound monotonous, but what truly makes it work and keeps you going forward, is the game’s psychedelic visuals and witty writing. The world around you feels quirky, vibrant and alive, which forms a transcending identity for the game. The interesting story, and the talented voice-over further works like butter to bread and gives the game a substantial boost in polish.

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The world around you feels quirky, vibrant and alive, which forms a transcending identity for the game

The game’s layout is a bit open in nature and does make sure you run into NPC’s who give you random side-quests. One of the earliest one required me to retrieve a lost dog, which you can guess involved me decapitating it and hijacking his body (don’t worry though as it was only a robot). The only little problem I have had is with a few minor bugs, and the lack of dialogue for our hero(ine), as I felt that the character itself and the world around it would have been more interesting if the main person could talk and react to situation around him.

I’ve have had a tremendous amount of fun with Headlander and it is yet another game that strengthens the standing of Double Fine as pioneers in eccentricity, one of the few developers respectfully willing to pay attention to their bizarre ideas. It’s from that commitment that an eccentric idea is allowed to shed its skin in order to show its inner marvel. It is for those reasons that Headlander is assuredly a classic, one that every gamer deserves to get their hands on.



Author

Haris Iqbal
Haris Iqbal

I am a guy who loves anything with a powerful storyline, whether it be a game, book or movie, it doesn't matter. Just so long as it hooks me in and keeps my imagination captive till the last word/scene! Also, I am huge Silent Hill fan, so I love all things Silent Hill... and anything horror. Huge horror fanatic!