She Remembered Caterpillars is a beautifully hand-drawn puzzle game about love, loss and holding on. You begin the game with no tutorial or instructions, no forced exposition or cutscenes, simply a stage and some tiny colored fungi. Your goal is to get each of differently colored and shaped fungi to fall asleep on pedals so they can fly off into the distance. During the first act you’ll only have to worry about managing two colors and shapes as the game gets you to understand what you’re trying to do. But as you progress you’ll start dealing with a larger pool of shapes and colors as well as the introduction of a fusion mechanic that will challenge your every move.
The game is split up into acts with each act containing multiple chapters or stages that increase the further you progress in the game. When you start a stage you’re presented with vague exposition that sets the story of a family struggling to stay together and the realization that growing up isn’t as easy as you think it is. Years go by as you progress through the game, with the ambiguous child growing up and understanding that her father only has a small amount of time left in the world. With a vague sense of what’s going on She Remembered Caterpillars has a certain charm that leaves you guessing what will happen with each passing chapter.
Staying a few steps ahead of yourself is key if you want to clear a chapter without giving up and restarting. Alongside the fungi that you control there are colored fungi that lead you to different parts of the stage but only if you are using a fungus of the same color or a fusion with the necessary color. Another blockade you’ll face in later acts are fungi that prohibit same colored fungi from passing, switches that form bridges for fungi to safely pass through and fusion bridges that require your fungi to be fused into a certain color for you to cross. This will have you fusing and defusing to figure out how to reach every pedal without getting blocked off.
With a vague story and an eerily mesmerizing soundtrack, She Remembered Caterpillars has a unique charm that I haven’t experienced with an independent game before. If you’re looking for a puzzle game that really pushes the boundaries you won’t find that here, but what it lacks in innovation it makes up for in challenge and stimulation. Every level is carefully planned out so there’s only one way to successfully complete each puzzle and the forgiving nature of the game makes it a relaxing experience that rewards you with additional dialogue from the unseen family. I found myself invested in the tidbits of exposition offered in every stage and enjoyed piecing together the story just as much as solving each puzzle. While She Remembered Caterpillars is on the shorter side, roughly taking me 3 hours to beat, it’s a refreshing puzzler with a story I think everyone can relate to.
Release Date - January 17, 2017
Special thanks to Ysbryd Games for providing a review code