I wanna gaze at the Horizon

Creator: ねころねこ

Average Rating
8.7 / 10
Average Difficulty
84.1 / 100
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Adventure (5) Needle (2) Gimmick (1) Long (3) Puzzle (6) Galaxy_Brain (2)

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9 Reviews:

Xplayerlol
Rating based on cute mode because I'm cute. Also based on version 1.0 because it took me too long to find out about version 1.04 (Also, I'm a little bit of a difficulty junkie). Don't worry, though, I will be talking about both versions.
Really long and REALLY difficult adventure/puzzle game. It consists of nine stages (Each followed by a boss) of increasing difficulty and varying lengths, which I'll discuss in detail later. The game's structure is completely linear. Each stage contains a solid package of puzzles, needle-ish platforming or both, finishing with an adorable OC boss.
The amount of variety is amazing. Each stage has a specific theme, each theme spawns a relatively large set of gimmicks and each gimmick spawns a large set of usages. The average gimmick in fangames goes like "Cool, now I can do this and this!". Sometimes, you'll even find gimmicks that go "Cool, now I can do this, that, and because of that I can also do this and this!". Much rarer, however, is a gimmick that makes you go "Cool, now I can do this, which means I can also do this and that, which in turn means I can also do this, oh, I can also do this, and this, and wait a minute, this means I can also do all of these, holy sh...". Every gimmick in Gaze is exactly like that, and the game ensures that you experience their full potential. Furthermore, every puzzle uses a set of gimmicks, so the possibilities are endless (And so is the complexity)! The results are fairly overwhelming at times, but the good kind of overwhelming. The type that leaves the player admired, rather than just sick and tired. Even if the player eventually gives in to the puzzles, he'll most likely do so with respect, saluting the maker's brilliancy.
The ambiance is also pretty good. While some stages look a little abstract, they all have enough distinct features to stablish an identity of their own. The unique names the maker assigned to each one of them helps with that. Visuals, musics, core mechanics, themes and sound effects, everything fits well together, like pieces of a puzzle. Heh, puzzles. Speaking of visuals, they are adorable, and the bosses are extra adorable.
This is also a good opportunity to mention something that I always forget to mention. Necoroneko's (The maker) games always have their own manual, with instructions, some cute illustrations, character descriptions and maybe more stuff. Keypick had one, I believe SlimeTrap also has one, but Gaze's manual is the largest and most elaborate. Unfortunately, it's in japanese. Even if you can't understand it, however, you can always use an OCR and Google Translator to get an awful translation that nevertheless still tells you something about them. Just an extra layer of detail to the game that I considered worth mentioning.
So, in a first glance, this game is amazing. Necoroneko's games, in general, have been amazing so far. SlimeTrap and Keypick are both games that draw out the most of a single core gimmick, which makes elites of their genres, but also made me want to see a longer adventure that displays the same level of creativity with a wider set of core gimmicks (Or, to be more precise, it made me want to experience such an adventure. I had already started a Gaze playthrough when I first heard of SlimeTrap, so I already had a feeling that Gaze was going to be 'that' game). It's the length I was hoping for, to jump from a 9.5+ to an actual 10. And Gaze happens to be that game.
But that's "in a first glance". I've said similar words before, and usually a violent bashing follows. Thankfully, things aren't so extreme this time around but, unlike Necoroneko's later works, this game gives me a lot of room for complaints, in both versions (Which justifies the lower rating). However, to talk about them, I need to get into the specifics of each stage, which is great because I also have a lot of nice things I want to say along the way.


Stage -1:
Also known as the difficulty selection screen. You can choose between "Cute", "Moderate", "Tough" and "Mad" difficulty, which looks pretty normal, really. Naturally, the harder the difficulty, the harder it is to get to the warp. Nothing really changes in the puzzles by playing a higher difficulty, you just get less saves. Cute and Moderate are the only difficulties worth considering in my opinion (Moderate makes the needle sections slightly more challenging, and as far as I have played - Which isn't a lot, so don't take my word for it - doesn't remove saves in puzzle sections. So, basically, play Moderate if you feel like Cute's needle sections aren't difficult enough. Tough starts to remove saves in puzzle sections, so definitely don't.
But the reason I'm talking about the difficulty selection screen, calling it a stage and even going as far as marking this as a spoiler, is because of the 'Mad' difficulty. If you make it past the corner spam (Sphincters!) and reach the arrow that says "Mad", what awaits you isn't the Mad difficulty right away. It's Stage -1's boss, The Mad Keeper. Yes. The DIFFICULTY SCREEN has a boss. How often in fangames do you see a boss at the DIFFICULTY SELECTION SCREEN? I've never seen one before. And I've played a lot of fangames. And video games in general. The existence of a boss in a section of the game that no one is going to play anyway is just one of many testaments to the amount of effort poured in this game.
The boss' name is Pahe, and her special ability is creating slime compounds with various properties. She's a very technical boss that requires loads of patience to beat (Also some luck? She has one rather ugly RNG attack, but I never got to it so I can't tell if it's fair or nah) because damaging her requires very specific setups. Die, and you are teleported back to the difficulty selection screen.
So, after the initial shock of seeing a boss in the difficulty selection screen (Also called Stage -1), I started to think more rationally. Pre-boss platforming including three too many corners, followed by a long boss that gives you lots of opportunities to choke, plus a very suspicious RNG attack in the middle of the fight. Sounds like cancer to me. Still, she's an optional boss that guards this game's equivalent of an Impossible mode, a warp you're often never supposed to use. It's pretty hard to call her a cheap boss when you consider that. So, yeah, she's there. It's a nice alternative challenge that you can try out at any moment in your playthrough (Not before you reach the middle of stage 2, though. Seriously, I'm warning you).


Stage 0 (Hometown):
The tutorial stage. It introduces fangame physics and some recurrent mechanics of the game. It also features some simplistic puzzles, on par with the average adventure fangame with puzzle elements. It's pretty short, as it should be. Most of all, it does its job as a tutorial stage very nicely. There's no boss (And I wish it had one, but nothing we can do about it, I guess), but you do get to see this individual called Corona in the end. I was about to call Corona a "he" because it looks like a male, but the translation says "she" and it's hard to tell anyway, so I'm just confused.

Stage 1 (Geometric Spike):
The point where "the game really starts", if you will. Stage 1 is the first stage of the game you can wholeheartedly call a Stage, and it's insanely long. In fact, in terms of amount of screens, it's one of the longest stages of the game (About 16 screens long).
Geometric Spike is a Uhuhu-like needle stage that employs irregularly shaped spikes. The odd shapes result in some really cool jumps, and the design is just great all around. It features Qoqoqo-esque loops, multiple paths and a few irritating slimes. I lost count of how many times I replayed this stage, and it never got tiring for me despite its massive length. The needle starts out easy, but later screens of the stage are decently difficult (50-55 difficulty, I'd estimate).
The first boss is Miki. She's adorable and has my favorite character design among the bosses in the game. Her fight is also the first occurence of Dark Engel I through the game, and that music is one hell of a good boss theme. It feels like a late boss theme (Maybe even fitting for a last boss), so the idea of having a song like this in the first boss of the game plays a big role in making every boss feel grand. I should say, of course, that other fangames do the same thing. But among them, this theme is the one that stuck to my mind and won't let go for a long while. Great music choice.
As a boss, she's fairly straightforward, in a way. She creates a rain of hexagons, until one spike descends, allowing you to damage her. Every time you damage her, she pulls off a Yellow Devil, turning her body into bubbles that travel horizontally across the screen. It's a pattern attack, but even if it wasn't it would still be alright. After a few hits, her Yellow Devil attack changes and the bubbles start to curve in weird ways. This whole thing is pattern, so you can just memorize it if you die enough times, but there's one way to beat this attack on your first try (After you find out that the bubbles curve, and think for a while, naturally). Miki doesn't have a lot of tricks up her sleeve nor any complex mechanics, and as such she's on the easier end of the bosses in this game. Still, I enjoy her fight a lot. The RNG isn't free, and even the pattern attacks are decently challenging (Note that when I say "decently challenging" I don't mean 70+, I mean something around the 40s).
This is also a good point to introduce another concept of the game: The penalty rooms! You see, the maker really hates players that pause in the middle of a boss fight (Even though pausing hides the whole screen, so it's not of much help most of the time). Therefore, if the player ever pauses in the middle of a fight, he will be teleported to a punishment room (Which obviously auto-saves when you enter it).
Stage 1's punishment room is more needle with odd shapes, but with harder, more precise jumps. In exchange, the saves are way shorter. Still, I believe it's way harder than the normal stage.


Stage 2 (Slime Garden):
Slime Garden is the first real puzzle stage. As the name suggests, it's centered around the usage of slimes with various properties. Some of them will be your best friends, such as light blue, while others are just there to be massive douchebags, such as pink. Seriously, fuck pink. Worst slime in this game. Anyway, this is where the puzzles start to get creative. The game lets you figure out most of the slimes' properties on your own, but the more complex interactions between slimes and other elements of the stage are properly explained through rather cute illustrative animations. Furthermore, if you don't feel like figuring things out on your own, you can always read the game manual. Stage 2's slimes are the only gimmick the maker described in the manual. Not even every slime. Stage 2's slimes, alone. Worse, it doesn't even list all the types of slimes in stage 2. So, basically, there's no purpose to the manual listing some of the slimes at all. But that's just strange, not bad. You know what's actually dumb? The one screen with no portal in sight. You need to shoot the one purple slime at the end of the screen (Risking an explosion, because the manual DOESN'T TELL YOU ABOUT THIS SLIME. It also looks remarkably similar to another slime that serves no purpose in the game - Also, this one is listed in the manual, for extra confusion). Doing so will create a portal on the other side of the country because why not, I guess. The screen I'm talking about is actually great, for multiple reasons that I don't want to talk about (But you'll know once you play it). It's just that one purple slime. Screw that purple slime too. In terms of length, stage 2 isn't super long, but because of its puzzles it may feel longer than it actually is.
The second boss is Kino. Quick fun fact: If you stalk the maker across the links he provides himself, you'll find his Pixiv account, where he posts 4-koma drawings. Some of them are hilarious, and most don't even have text, so language barrier is not an issue. Just beware of the R-18 post. The main character seems to be Corona, which we mentioned before, and one of the main supporting characters is Kino, so you get to learn a little bit of her personality if you care. I haven't mentioned his 4-koma when speaking of Miki because Miki doesn't seem to be in his stories, which is pretty sad.
Anyway, back to Kino. She has the ability to summon slimes and annoy greedy players. Damaging her is very straightforward, except you need to use the slimes to your advantage in order to reach her. It's a fairly simple fight that makes a nice usage of the stage's mechanics. Pink slimes are, as always, huge douchebags. I feel like adding a few more layers of complexity to this boss (Such as making the red slimes useful somehow) wouldn't hurt, but I guess it's a fine boss as it is.
The penalty room is a fairly simple sequence of slime puzzles. It's well below the level of the stage's puzzles, which matches the boss' lower difficulty, I guess. Can you really punish someone for pausing at Kino's fight? Who even does that intentionally?.

Stage 3 (Shadow Swamp):
Shadow Swamp is a strange needle-esque stage with lots of bizarre shapes. Think of Genki, but twice as strange. And that's how the whole stage goes: Just avoiding shapeless obstacles whose behavior grows stranger and stranger. I feel like this stage overstays its welcome a little bit (9 screens doesn't sound like a lot, but every screen has a bunch of jumps. It's a pretty claustrophobic stage, compared to the rest of the game), but otherwise it's actually amazing. The whole way this stage works is just super unique, and I imagine it took a lot of work to make each and every one of these behavior patterns.
The third boss is Curil, the shortest among them. Fitting the stage's theme, he(?) attacks with bizarrely shaped projectiles that behave very strangely. It's 100% RNG and, well, very strange. Damage him enough, and he'll change his attack pattern to something more predictable, but harder to avoid. He's the only boss in the game that completely changes his fighting style in the middle of the fight, rather than just altering it slightly. It can easily be either, the easiest or the hardest among the first three bosses.
The penalty room is a swarm of more bizarre obstacles that you have already seen before. It's WAY harder than the stage's platforming, so be extra careful not to press 'P' unless you actually want to play it.

Stage 4 (Vanderion Woods):
Vanderion Woods is the next puzzle stage, and it involves slimes again. New species of slimes and other complicated mechanics are introduced, which makes the puzzles even more complex, and even more creative. It's the shortest stage so far, packing only 7 puzzles, but each screen takes a large toll on your time. If you haven't started using Paint to aid your puzzle-solving technique, maybe now is the time. Maybe not yet. Unlike the previous stages, which start out easy in order to introduce their core gimmick and slowly build up their difficulty, Stage 4 starts out difficult and remains difficult until the end. The difficulty curve is completely flat. And it makes sense, since the player already knows how slimes work (Shoot them and something happens. Maybe it's something good, maybe it's something horrible). It's a pretty good stage, as long as you forget that the sixth screen exists. Sixth screen is the most tedious thing ever. The amount of backtracking it requires is absurd.
The fourth boss is Pano (Which is an actual word in my native language, so it's a little weird to talk about her). Unlike previous bosses, which have a small variety of complex/strange attacks, Pano is more in line with the average adventure boss, with a larger variety of relatively simple attacks. She uses slime bubbles, which work more or less like slimes, except that they float. Just like Kino, the tricky part of her fight is to damage her, which is done through a very unintuitive way. Thankfully, if you struggle enough, the game will give you a hint about how to damage her. Details like this are what separate a good maker from a great one. The maker knows that damaging Pano is unintuitive, and he found a way to circumvent that issue that works even better than text-based instructions. But the best part about this boss is what happens near the end of the fight. It completely changes the fight from something that looked fairly straightforward into something that requires caution, patience and thinking. It might be my favorite boss in the game, gameplay-wise.
The penalty room is the first lame penalty room in the game. It's just simple vine needle, the kind you see in lower rated fangames, or in forgettable sections of floor games. It's not bad, but it's pretty underwhelming, specially when the boss is this good. It's not free, but it's not super hard either.

Stage 5 (Material Combinart):
By now, you might be thinking that every puzzle in the game will be slimes, slimes and slimes only! Which sounds a little dull, to be honest. That's why I was happy to find out that stage 5's core gimmick has nothing to do with slimes! Material Combinart is a puzzle stage with a more technological feel to it, with metallic colors, electronic lights and OBVIOUSLY conveyor belts. Puzzles are centered around the idea of "activating" and "deactivating" certain platforming segments of the screen in specific orders. It looks very scary at first glance, but I found it to be rather intuitive: If you are doing something wrong, you'll know right away. So basically, this stage takes the puzzle element of the game one notch down. In exchange, the platforming's difficulty is increased to oblivion. Some saves are easily 70-80 difficulty in my book.
Except that a good chunk of the platforming's difficulty comes from questionable design. Some of my least favorite saves of this game are in this stage. The number one issue this stage suffers of is lack of difficulty balance. Many saves have awkwardly precise jumps near their end, while their beginning is pretty much free. This is particularly bad because some saves are ridiculously long. One save, in particular, takes over 5 minutes if done quickly. A needle save that lasts 5 minutes, yes. Imagine grinding that thing. But that's not even the worst part. Backtracking is a necessary evil in puzzle games, but there are ways to make it less dreadful. One such way is to change the platforming with every platforming cycle, so that going back and forth between the same spots doesn't feel repetitive. Stage 5 executes this concept flawlessly, except for this 5-minute-save. There's a lot of backtracking, the player is forced to lap around the screen at least six times (Possibly more), executing the exact same platforming cycle. No meaningful changes whatsoever, you just keep unlocking paths on the edges of the screen. It's dull, horrendously dull. I was yawning the whole time (Which cost me even more attempts). If you've beaten "I wanna Classic", you may be thinking "5 minutes doesn't sound so bad", but even 'that' save doesn't feel nearly as repetitive as the abomination in this game does. Although, 'that' save is definitely harder, and tedious in its own way. There's pretty much no puzzle either, the save is super intuitive, so it's just a tedious needle save that makes me hate stage 5 more than it deserves. Many saves in that stage aren't even that bad.
Later in the stage, you'll unlock a new mechanic, and every trace of needle suddenly vanishes. This later portion of stage 5 is actually pretty cool, and I liked everything about it. The slimes are never truly gone.
This stage is actually gigantic for a puzzle stage. It draws with stage 1 and, in version 1.04, with stage 8 as well, for the title of longest stage in the game. With that being said, though, some of these screens are tutorial screens, so they don't really count. It's still a dreadfully long stage nevertheless.

The fifth boss is Zepto, and he inauguarates the next boss theme, Dark Engel II. It's slower and more serene than the first version, and also a little eerie. Why am I making a music review? I'm not. I was just going to say I like this theme too, and that it works well with the second batch of bosses.
According to Pixiv's comics and the game manual, Zepto is a brute. He's too strong for his own good (Or for anyone else's good). So, I guess it's no surprise that, as a boss, he'd beat the shit out of a scrawny kid. Over and over again. What am I saying? I'm saying that this guy is ridiculously difficult.
Zepto is one of the most complex bosses in the game, so before I talk about the ups and downs of the fight, let me explain it. The fight works like an avoidance with no music. He swarms you with (Mostly pattern) attacks, and you just have to survive for a while. The fight's structure is: Patterns -> Easy needle jump -> Chainsaw RNG -> Medium needle section -> Patterns + RNG -> Difficult needle section. He throws lightnings, gears, bombs, gigantic chainsaws and himself at you, everything moving at five times the Kid's speed. In order to damage him, you need to beat needle sections randomly chosen from a predetermined list. And somewhere in the middle of the fight, there's this REALLY hard RNG section that involves one of Stage 5's main gimmicks.
- The first pattern portion of the fight, I have no issue with. It's difficult and very learn-y, but not bad. In fact, it's actually pretty good. Most potential insta-gibs are preceded by warnings, which allows the player to time his movements more easily. Every attack is difficult to avoid even once you learn them, and the player is forced to keep moving the whole time. It's a fun segment, once you learn it.
- Then, it's time to do the first needle section, which is randomly chosen from a list of easy needle jumps. Some are actually free, while others are trickier, or at least choke-able. It's fine, I guess. I'm not a fan of the whole 'precise needle jump in the middle of an avoidance' thing, but so far the jumps haven't been particularly precise. Also, you have a time limit, but that's not relevant yet. The one thing I really like about this portion of the fight is how YOU can't injure Zepto, but he can injure himself. It's a good fit for an absurdly strong guy that happens to not be super smart.
- Chainsaw is next. This is the main source of the boss' difficulty. You need to hit the right switches in order to avoid being mutilated by the chainsaws. The problem is, there are too many chainsaws, so your precision has to be nearly perfect. It requires a lot of practice, and I mean a LOT of practice to get consistent at this phase. After you get the hang of it, however, it's pretty fun. The problem is that this phase comes after a relatively long and difficult pattern segment. In other words, it takes a good while between every attempt, so getting consistency takes a while. There's a chance you might start hating either, the first phase or this one, after a few hours. But the problem isn't either of them. The problem is that these two phases simply don't fit together, yet the maker decided to slam them in the same boss.
- Then, it's time for another needle section. Have I mentioned that I hate precise needle jumps in the middle of an avoidance fight? Let me repeat that. This time, the list of needle jumps includes some pretty precise stuff. The time limit starts to be more relevant, because some jumps require setups you don't have time for. Fail, and you need to do chainsaw all over again (Which is pretty hard even after you get consistent at it).
- This is Zepto's last life bar, so he'll be trying even harder to kill you now. He starts to pull out gigantic bombs, and more lightnings. He gains quite a few insta-gibs that can't be predicted, and it's still hard to avoid his attacks even when you know they're coming. He also uses two RNG attacks: Donuts and small bombs. Both are absolute garbage, and if they feel like it you just die. Let me remind you, Chainsaw awaits you. It's a garbage phase that kills any potential this boss had to be fun.
- Finally, it's time for the last test. Yes, it's another needle section. Every roll you can possibly get is difficult in some way, though some are harder than others (T-bone vortex is the worst roll you can get imo). It's your last chance to choke, so make it count!
Long story short, Zepto contains some enjoyable sections that don't work well together, along with actually garbage sections, resulting in one of the worst bosses I've played this year. Also one of the hardest bosses I've played this year. For some people, this might be the hardest boss in the game. It tripled my time count (From 10 to 30 hours), and probably did something similar to other people, so it's definitely one difficulty leap that shouldn't exist. That is, if we're talking about Version 1.00 Zepto. You may have realized I haven't been talking about 1.04 so far. That's because no relevant changes have been made up until this point. The first noticeable change is what they did to Zepto, and boy, is it a big change. 1.04 Zepto was nerfed, severely nerfed.
- The first pattern portion lost a lot of lightnings, which makes survival a little easier. I didn't mind it the way it was before, and I don't mind it the way it's here either. The lightning beam is also a lot smaller, which makes that particular attack a lot less precise.
- Chainsaw is what really annoyed me. It seems I wasn't the only one who thought this phase had too many chainsaws, but the new version has too FEW chainsaws. I literally can't see anyone dying in this phase, ever. There should be a middle ground, a way to make this phase challenging without requiring near-perfection. But neither of Gaze's versions meet that middle ground.
- Zepto's last life bar was slightly nerfed as well. The larger bombs had their radius nerfed, so the patterns are a little less precise now, which I appreciate. The donuts also seem to be easier to survive. Still, other issues remain: This phase is full of instagibs and the bombs are still obnoxious.
- No changes were made to the needle jumps.
Long story short, no one is ever dying to chainsaw now. The one thing that relates Zepto to Stage 5 feels completely irrelevant now. 1.04 Zepto is a boss whose difficulty comes from instagib patterns, awkward needle jumps and obnoxious bombs. Only the bad parts of his fight remained. So, even though 1.04 Zepto is way easier, I believe he's even worse than the original. There's nothing fun about this version of the fight, at all.
As I was writing this review, I had a dream where the RNG attacks were remade, every instagib was properly announced and the needle sections were replaced with gimmick sections, similar to I wanna Classic's last boss. Now that would be one way to make this boss amazing. Too bad it was just a dream.
The penalty room is also garbage. Choose three generic advanced needle jumps from a set, and beat them. Last batch of jumps is particularly bad, including a double invert, a downwards plane and other annoying jumps of similar difficulty. Just like stage 4's, it has nothing to do with the stage theme at all.

Stage 6 (Ruins Crift):

A shorter stage with a mystical feel to it. It alternates between labyrinth-like platforming and a pretty cool style of puzzle. Both styles of platforming are gradually incremented with mechanics until they reach a reasonable level of complexity. I really enjoyed most of this stage, and even the few sections I didn't enjoy weren't really bad either. It feels relieving to not have anything bad to say about a stage.
The sixth boss is Larf, another contender for hardest boss in the game. His wings can cut through space like some sort of shounen swordsman character, which in-game translates to a memory game. No, seriously, it's an actual memory game. The game tells you what Larf is or isn't going to cut next, and you must act accordingly.
The problem is that there's too much to memorize. There are 9 different blocks, and Larf can attack up to 10 times (20 in the last attack, but let's ignore that. 10 attacks are already enough to worry about). That's 90 different blocks whose states you need to remember during a phase. There are multiple ways of attempting to beat this boss, but none of them is very pleasant:
- You can try to memorize everything, just brute force your way through. I don't think any human can do that, but who knows, I might be underestimating the human species.
- You can develop an optimal memorization technique for this boss. Your technique needs to allow quick data compression, quick memorization of the compressed data, quick retrieval and quick decodification. Because you have about half a second to memorize each attack pattern. I spent a while perfecting my own memorization method, until it reached a state I can confidently call "optimal". Unfortunately, it heavily relies on RNG in phases 4, 5 and 6, which makes it impractical. It's just a way to actually stand a chance.
- You can cheese your way past this boss. Yes, there's a way to cheese this boss (And others!), but it feels lame so I'm not going to talk about it. I used it after mistaking the second to last attack for the actual last, resulting in a soul-crushing choke. Back then, I felt pretty smart for finding a way around the memory RNG, but in retrospect I just feel bad about doing it.
- Pen and paper, if you are quick enough. (According to Google Translator, whose accuracy we all know and love) Larf won't forgive small brains that write notes, but do we care? I'm not sure. Also, does taking notes even help? Except for the last phase, I'm pretty sure it just slows you down.
- You can switch to 1.04. It allows you to use "hints", which allows you to make three phases absolutely free by removing the memorization element in them. That's still one difficult phase (Also three freebies) you'll need to beat regardless, so choose carefully. After clearing the game, I decided to beat him at least on version 1.04 (Which I did) just to satisfy my own ego.
Yeah, each method has its downsides. Some will hurt your pride, others will hurt your brain, others will hurt your patience. Switching to version 1.04 is definitely the most reasonable choice, unless you want bragging rights. Also, I said I felt bad about it, but cheesing works just fine too. "If it's in the game, it's allowed", right? So yeah, Larf has the potential to be the hardest boss in the game, but...There are just too many "buts".
Gameplay-wise, it's hard to classify it. It's creative, and a very unique fight. You stand still a lot, and most of the work is done within your brain. I feel like the original version it's too difficult to be properly enjoyed, but it's such a strange fight that I can't even tell if the boss is actually unplayable without relying on your luck to some extent, or if I'm just bad. RNG in a memory game is really bad, so I hope it's just my memory being bad. The one thing I know for sure is that the full jumps required to stay in the top section are really annoying.
Version 1.04, on the other hand, is very feasible. Use hints to beat the sections you find harder to memorize, and focus on learning a way to get past a phase that looks doable to you. Personally, I'd say phase 4 and phase 7 are the easiest to work with (Ignoring the first three, obviously). Even if you need to rely on RNG, it's just one phase, so it's fine. It's a lot easier to get lucky if it's just once, not four times in a row. Full jumps are still irky, though.
On a side note, Larf is also the first and only boss in the game that has literally nothing to do with the stage he belongs in. Speaking of which, a boss with stage 6's mechanics would be amazing if done right. Missed opportunity.
Here's where the maker's creativity for penalty rooms completely runs out. Stage 6's penalty room is a copypasted labyrinth from the normal platforming in the stage. No changes whatsoever. Meh. It's an irritanting screen, so I guess it works as punishment.

Stage 7 (Keypick):

Ah, yes, the dreadful Keypick stage. It's really short, but the few screens it has leave deep scars on its players. It starts out easy, the first two screens are freebies and the third is playable. Horribly boring, with too much backtracking and a relatively obvious solution, but playable. The interval between the fourth and the seventh screen is the traumatizing section of this stage. I've played "I wanna Keypick 100" before, and I loved it. Many people that got this far in the game consider stage 7 the worst in the game. It's the same core mechanic, so what's the difference?
Well, for starters, analysing every possibility is a lot more feasible for a human in Keypick 100 than in this game. Keypick 100 has a lot of mechanics that REDUCE the amount of possibilities you need to consider. It's easy to prune solutions down to a small set, which you can then manually explore. This stage, however, introduces mechanics that INCREASE the amount of possibilities you need to consider. Branching paths, overlapping paths and sections that can be opened through multiple keys, every single of these concepts increases the amount of possibilities you need to consider exponentially (And I don't mean exponentially as in "by a lot", like some people do. I mean a literal exponential growth relative to the amount of branching paths that can be taken). Granted, many paths lead to immediate dead ends, but others take a long while until you realize they are a lost cause as well. The solutions are multiple, but few, and the amount of possibilities is just too vast.
So yeah, stage 7 is literally just brute forcing your way through. Sounds pretty dull for a galaxy brain puzzle game that was doing so well up until now (I mean, some stages had their downsides, but their gimmicks were always amazing. Stage 7 was already bad from the moment it was conceptualized). But that doesn't mean implementation issues don't exist as well. If you see a branching keylock (Two keylocks blocking your path, out of which you only need to open one), you'll soon realize you don't want to open the top lock. But it's not really your choice. For every top lock you open, a nightmare needle jump follows. It's a relatively difficult jump, and sometimes you need to do two, four, six of these. In saves where attempts may take over 5 minutes.
Version 1.00 has another aggravating element. Every save has two purple slimes walking across the walls, and you can choose between waiting for them or killing them. Either way, that's 30+ extra seconds you'll waste in every attempt. That's their only purpose: To waste your time. Talk about being cheap. Version 1.04 removed these guys. Yaay. Stage 7 is still trash, though.
By the time I got to screen 8 in this stage, I was already tired of playing like a computer, just blindly trying every path and trying to make sense out of it. I'm not growing any brain cells by ramming into random doors in a puzzle game. So I gave the computer-like task to my computer and wrote an algorithm to solve keypick mazes. It took a few decades to give me a solution, but it did, and it worked. Yaay. This, I don't regret. It's the closest way I can think of playing this braindead stage without boring myself to death.
The last two screens are keylock needle. It's a nice concept, done in a pretty Sleeper way. Diamonds, gates, diamonds and gates, and then corners into corners into more corners. Another bad section in a bad stage.

The seventh boss is Chad. His fight follows an interesting concept where you try to shelter yourself from keys by keeping the keylocks intact for as long as possible. Later in the fight, the keys start to circle around, which makes this task even more difficult. The fight looks like it's RNG at first, but soon you'll realize that the whole thing is always the same. There's no reason for these attacks to be fully pattern, but they are. It's an interesting fight and pretty enjoyable after the introductory phases, but don't expect to die a lot: The challenge is to damage him, rather than just surviving (I mean, if you only hit him once every phase, chances are you will eventually die before he does). I personally consider him the easiest boss in the game. Easily the easiest boss in the second half, at least.
The penalty room is Stage 7's last screen. Yet another recycled screen. Sigh.

Stage 8 (Techtonics):

The final puzzle challenge in the game is Techtonics. It slowly builds up a completely new set of gimmicks (A long stage with no slimes! Who would have thought?), and it's a pretty large set of gimmicks. The result is a very complex stage filled with variety that, at its peak moments, combines THREE different puzzles into one (Routing the Kid's movements, routing the blocks' movements and the most well-known type of puzzle). It's crazy, overwhelming, very difficult and SO MUCH FUN. I haven't realized until I beat it, but this is probably my favorite stage in the whole game.
Version 1.04 adds an extra screen that introduces a gimmick that version 1.00 never bothered to introduce. It's absolutely free, which makes it a nice introductory screen, but I don't think I minded the version that doesn't have it. It's funny to be taken by surprise in that specific case.
The eighth boss is Piece. Not the fangame maker, it's a guy made out of jigsaw pieces. Just like Zepto, Larf and Chad, his fight is a survival type (I.e. you don't attack him). It's a pretty interesting fight. He only has one attack, which consists of summoning jigsaw blocks from opposite sides of the screen and slamming them against each other. You have a few seconds to figure out how will these blocks interact, I.e. which squares are safe, and shelter yourself in one of these squares. It's easier said than done, specially if the safe squares are on the top row (Full jumps again), but it's a fun fight once you adapt to this strange concept. Damage him enough, and he'll flip the gravity, which confuses your brain, slows down your thoughts and makes it harder to calculate the safe spots. Personally, I think that calculating is too slow. But memorizing every pattern is also too slow. So the best way to play this fight is finding an optimal middle ground between those two ideas.
The only issue I have with Piece (Besides full jumps) is the amount of HP he has. This guy has 50 HP. And it's always the same attack, over and over and over again. Something like 30 HP should be enough to prove the player's consistency (And then flipping the gravity at 10 HP). 50 HP is just overkill. Also boring. Version 1.04 gives you hint mode (Which is actually sort of useless, but you can use it when the gravity is upside-down, I guess), but the 50 HP are still there. I also find it weird how Chad and Piece are the simplest bosses in the game (In terms of variety of attacks, not in terms of concept), even though they appear so late in the game. Specially given how complicated Zepto and even Larf are. Still, I like them. The simpler a boss, the lower are the odds to fuck it up, I guess.
One thing I really like about this boss is the way he loses. It turns out he's actually throwing pieces of himself at you.
Guess which last screen is this stage's penalty room? Yaay. I guess the maker thinks no one is going to press P by now, so there's no reason to make a penalty room that will never be seen. Although, he did make a boss for the Mad portal, which is...Yeah

Stage 9 (Last Horizon):

The actual last stage, consisting of three screens. It's just simplistic needle, kinda feels like a filler stage in fact. Cute mode has A LOT of saves in this stage. It's not very fun, but it's not horrible either. Third screen is absolute cancer, but you can skip it. The skip is so unintuitive I'm just going to describe it anyway. Shoot any spike. Wait until the dialogue ends. Shoot it again (Alternatively, shoot any other spike). Wait until the dialogue ends. If you can speak japanese, maybe you've found a clue to the skip, but even then, who goes around just shooting spikes? Eventually, there's a chance that a "Hint" box will appear, as long as you shot the spikes twice. The last step is to just give up. I didn't want to mention Classic again, but this part reminds me of that thing for some reason. I wonder why.
You'll be taken to a secret screen, which leads directly to the boss. Alternatively, you can do the super fun needle screen that ends with a 2.25 (?) invert.

The last boss is ???. Yeah, the manual calls him "???", so I guess I'll mark his whole section as a spoiler too.
The last boss is Zoid, born from the union of the previous 8 bosses. Given their powers, I'd assume that Piece was responsible for joining their bodies together, but we'll never know. He has a pretty cool design, and his intro is just as cool. I don't like his theme as much as the previous boss themes, but it did grow on me after a few hours.
As you can imagine from his concept, he follows the already well-known concept of borrowing attacks and mechanics from each one of the previous bosses. But, since the previous bosses are more unique than most bosses in games that tend to use this idea, the resulting fight also ends up being very unique.
- First phase is based on Miki's bubbles, so it's just pattern. It's learn-heavy, weird and much more complex than Miki's. I'm glad this is the first phase, because if it was the last chances are I'd throw this game straight in the trash bin. Learn-y patterns should always come in the beginning of the fight, so that's a good thing.
- Second phase uses slime bubbles instead of normal slimes, but otherwise it's pretty similar to the second boss. Reach the top and hit him a few times. It's a relatively irky phase, because depending on your luck you might have to wait for a while until you can go up.
- Third phase is a lot of bizarre projectiles moving in bizarre ways. Very similar to the third boss' first phase, but with different shapes for immersion purposes.
- Fourth phase is puzzle-ish and requires a lot of patience. The difficulty isn't avoiding death, but reaching Zoid in order to damage him (Although, impatient players can die very easily here. I would know, I am one of them). It's an easier, but more complex variation of Pano's last resort and it's pretty cool, but may be a little tedious if you get an attack you don't want too many times in a row (I got red bubbles six times in a row once).
- Fifth phase has two attacks. The first doesn't resemble Zepto's fight in the slightest, and consists of a precise instagib pattern (There are multiple ways to dodge it, which is good because a learn-heavy pattern would be too punishing for a fifth phase. Still, instagibs are bad by default, so meh). Next, you'll need to get through a needle section (Most likely a single jump) with a very wide difficulty range. One of the options you can roll allows you to skip phase 6, which is cool because that might be the hardest phase. Some rolls (Rukito jump) are really difficult and it feels a little douchy to see them this late in the fight.
- Sixth phase was my biggest nightmare before I saw it, but thankfully it doesn't make you memorize that many patterns, so it's not as bad as I expected. My strategy for it still relies on some RNG, but the odds are way better than the ones I had for the actual Larf fight (Above 50%, in fact). You can still cheese it but why would you? Version 1.04 allows you to use hints once, which erases the RNG issue.
- Seventh phase works the same as Chad's fight. Shield yourself for as long as you can, and avoid the leftover keys. Again, damaging the boss is harder than surviving, but depending on your personality controlling your nerves might be harder than both of them. You're about to have a shot at the last phase, after all.
- Eight phase is Piece with a twist. You've beaten this guy before, you can do it again. Aren't you happy that Stage 8 hammered these attack combinations into your brain? Version 1.04 could have hint mode in this phase, but I didn't get that far in it, so I'm not sure.
You should have noticed by now, but you have to beat everything in one go. This is a pretty gigantic fight, which can last between 4 and 10 minutes depending on your luck with phases 2 and 4.
The first few hours I spent playing this boss were pretty tedious. I hated the slower phases and kept dying in them because of impatience. I also died a lot to the faster phases because I wasn't ready for them. After a while, I started to appreciate this fight more. The slower phases work well as a break between the more frenetic ones (1,3,5,6 and 8), where you can rest your fingers and reflexes. It's not like you're not doing anything during them, anyway, your mind is just doing most of the work internally. You can't compare it to something like an avoidance intro, which is really there just to waste your time. Everything in this boss feels like it has a purpose, so in the end I actually like this fight. I mean, I hate phase 6 and phase 5 isn't my favorite either, but I like the fight as a whole.

The spoiler-free version is that ??? is a lengthy, challenging boss that happens to be actually fun despite my bad first impressions. It has a lot of cool details, and the gameplay is pretty unique in a way. It may be questionable at times, but I think those questionable portions are bearable.
The punishment room is what would happen is stage 9's last screen was in stage 1 instead. Feels like a missed opportunity to reskin that last screen with the mechanics of previous stages (Which fits the boss' theme). I'm certain that every version would have potential to be amazing (Even stage 7's). I really wonder what happened to the creativity behind these punishment rooms from stage 4 on. The first three were pretty good.

Final notes:

First things first, let's talk about the ending. The clear screen is adorable. It's adorable, it's adorable, it's TOO ADORABLE. I actually said "Awww" out loud. Most of the time I have a verbal reaction to something in a fangame, it's frustration, anger, sadness, some type of negative emotion. I tend to hold my positive feelings within, so I don't say anything when I'm happy about a fangame. I don't know why I'm saying that, I just thought it was nice that this game had such an effect on me. Also, you actually gaze at the horizon. I have a soft spot for fangames that follow their title (Not including meta titles such as "I wanna see you suffer", where the "I" is clearly referring to the maker instead of the Kid and, by extension, the player), somehow they are very rare.
I know I've played version 1.00, but I recommend playing version 1.04 instead if you need to pick one. As far as I'm aware of, the only thing that gives 1.00 an edge over 1.04 is Zepto, and even then he's pretty bad in both versions (And he's way easier in 1.04, so you can get past him more quickly anyway). With that being said, if you want to have a better taste of the game's difficulty, the setup I'd recommend is: Begin with version 1.00, switch to 1.04 for boss 6, switch back to 1.00 for boss 8. That way, the only things you'll be skipping from the harder version are the bullshit difficult boss and the purple slimes that nobody likes. You can also just play version 1.00 anyway, and figure a way past Larf yourself.
Now seriously, how do I rate this game? The difficulty is from version 1.00, no question about that. I'm not going to use the difficulty from a version I only played on the side (Checking the most critical spots for changes), specially if that version is easier. Also, if Larf wasn't cheesable this game would probably be a 90-95 instead. Easily. But a cheesable bad boss is still a bad boss, so if I were to rate this game's quality based on version 1.00 I would have to remove points anyway. Also, purple slimes. On the other hand, I can't evaluate this game using version 1.04 either, since I only played it on the side. I can't give it a number evaluation when I only played a portion of it, even if I assume that the rest of the game is the same as 1.00 or that any possible changes wouldn't matter on the long run. So the quality rating will be based on the setup I recommended (Switching between versions and enjoying the best of both worlds). It's the nicest evaluation I can give.

Even now, after going through the whole game in detail, I still don't know what to think of it. It's an amazing, one-of-a-kind puzzle game with lots of unique elements that I wish everyone had at least a taste of. But there are so many roadblocks standing in the middle of a willing player's progress. Minor and major roadblocks, and I'm not talking in terms of difficulty, where roadblocks are innevitable for a difficult game. I'm talking about quality roadblocks, sections that make you question whether you want to keep playing because they're just that bad. When I see a fangame with these positive elements and negative elements, I always ask myself "Is there anything to see here?" and "Is it worth the effort?". More often than not, my answer will be "No", and I'll give something like a 3 or a 5. But here my answer is a loud "Yes", so I guess my rating has to be at least higher than that. I actually love this game, despite its drawbacks. So far, I haven't decided on a rating, but speaking of personal feelings alone, this is easily one of my all time favorite fangames along with Permanence 2 (Although Permanence 2's issues aren't NEARLY as critical). Highly recommended, even if you happen to not finish it.

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Tagged as: Adventure Needle Gimmick Long Puzzle
[9] Likes
Rating: 7.9 79       Difficulty: 87 87
Oct 28, 2019
AndresSgarrido
Thinking on a fangame WutFace

edit: seriously these puzzles are incredible. It doesnt matter if you are good at fangames or puzzles, if you plan on clearing this, be prepared for some brain mindblowing, and a little of tediousness.

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Tagged as: Adventure Puzzle Galaxy_Brain
[6] Likes
Rating: 8.7 87       Difficulty: 89 89
May 2, 2018
kurath
Disclaimer: I shelved the game on the final boss after getting a pretty thorough representation of what it included. (Not because the boss is bad necessarily, mind you, just longer and harder than I was interested in)


This is a real monster of a game in many ways. Its very long, very diverse and very difficult. I decided to play it after seeing early parts of it because to some extent it was the kind of game I was looking for. Frequently the 'puzzle-platformer' genre seems to tone down the puzzle side in lieu of the platformer side. Alternatively, a lot of fangame 'puzzles' degrade into pretty much trial and error - this game manages to (for the most part) stray away from either of those.

Pros:
This game has fantastic production including what seems to be a ton of original spritework with almost every stage having its own well-executed aesthetic and sound effects. The puzzles are, without a doubt, the highlight of the game and nearly every puzzle stage has a lot to admire and enjoy and the creator constantly adds new mechanics and reveals new interactions between the puzzle elements to keep it interesting. One exception, unfortunately, is a stage that for some reason adds no new concepts for its duration and is particularly tedious The platforming stages are also really neat and quite memorable.

Mixed:
The bosses are a mixed bag. They largely incorporate the stage gimmick (which I love to see) and usually have a particularly unique mechanic which makes them interesting. These also usually result in bosses that require styles of play and methods of thinking about the fights that are far from the fangame standard - a risky proposition. Given that, the majority of them are good because of this. However, not all and some of these end up being quite problematic. Thus, if you're expecting to get all the way through you will need to prepare yourself for a couple grinds.

Cons:
The difficulty. I'll admit outright that I'm not the best fangame player and generally don't play the most difficult games. This is not a case of this. There are a lot of things that feel like they exist only to make the game take longer and be more difficult without adding anything of value. Mechanics which seek to punish the player without making the puzzles more difficult, just more tedious to execute and force repeated attempts. One stage even just jams in sections where you basically just kind of stand there and do nothing for 5-10 seconds at a time each attempt, too. This is compounded by the fact that it happens in very long segments (some saves in this game take several minutes when done quickly).

Summary:
This is a really good game, but its not for everyone. I got a lot out of it and have huge respect for the maker for what he created. He did something very different from the norm and did it well. It also represents a kind of fangame I've wanted to make myself. There are some serious flaws though. However, the good parts are so good that I thought it was worth working past them (to the extent that I rebuilt my own version of one of the puzzle mechanics so that I could attempt and solve the puzzles by bypassing the tedious punishment mechanics present in the game).

If you're the kind of person who doesn't mind not finishing games then I would absolutely recommend the first 5 stages to anyone. Its almost all stellar up to that point and there's tons of cool stuff to see and that I'd love to see inspire people to consider in future releases. Continuing from that point though, I would tread carefully. For the difficulty junkies who want to prove something or those who like puzzles enough to trudge through some muck then this game is absolutely for you.

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Tagged as: Adventure Long Puzzle
[3] Likes
Rating: 8.5 85       Difficulty: 80 80
May 13, 2018
Irkara
Best Brain.
The completer has outdistanced the human.So has the designer.

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[3] Likes
Rating: 8.9 89       Difficulty: N/A
May 3, 2018
Chance
It's a great puzzle game but I think I'm too wooden-headed to play through it WutFace

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Tagged as: Puzzle
[2] Likes
Rating: 7.3 73       Difficulty: N/A
May 2, 2018