On a quest to recover lost memories, Incredible Mandy is an environmental puzzle platformer that mostly revolves around activating switches by blowing up swords like Bomberman’s bombs. Visually, there are moments of minimalistic beauty but the drawn out gameplay is slow paced and not for everyone.
As you can see from my stream below, the player is presented with “figure out how to reach the other side” puzzles, one after another. Thankfully, most puzzles can be solved in a few minutes of trial and errors but sometimes they just take too long, slowing gameplay. For example, after my stream ended, fans were involved to push parts of the environment into place. Once the solution was determined, it just took a long time to run over there, activate that switch, then double back, jump over the thing, activate the other fan, walk all the way back… it is strange because the challenge doesn’t frustrate as much as the slow pace.
Although the main character is armed with a sword, it is not mainly used for attacking enemies. Instead, swords are essentially Bomberman bombs, triggering things when they explode. Many puzzles involve sticking a string of swords in the ground/wall to create a chain reaction, again, just like plopping down several bombs in Hudson’s series. It is a unique idea but can add to the slower pace of play. The player has limited access to the number of swords that can be placed at once. Once the sword meter depletes, it needs to be regenerated by walking next to a butterfly fountain. These fountains are located around every corner but walking to an area to refill can be mildly inconvenient when just wanting to get to that next part of the level. Stage ending boss battles are also lessons in attrition, forcing the player to wait through long movement patterns until that one vulnerable area is exposed for that brief period of time. Miss it, and you’ll need to wait all over again. Boss battles, while often large and epic, can be a disappointing slog.
There are times when Incredible Mandy is a beautiful and peaceful game. Looking to the simple blue distance or admiring that large castle for a moment is when the experience shines the brightest. The relaxing but whimsical soundtrack also plays into these strengths but the occasional tedious puzzle can damper the overall tone.
Incredible Mandy is by no means a bad game, it just lacks any significant flavor and impact. In comparison, when I played through RiME, I was gripped by the emotional story, sweeping landscapes, and quality mix of exploring and puzzle solving. Here, Incredible Mandy feels like a RiME-lite with every aspect aimed in the same direction but always falling a bit short of the mark. With nothing overall bad by nothing overly good, it is awkwardly stuck in the middle.
Also available on Switch and PC.