I have been playing a LOT of N++. To the point that my hands, wrists and even arms start to hurt, yet I keep coming back for more punishment. That is N++ in a nutshell, and it’s amazing.
I first heard of N years ago when it was a flash browser game but only really got into N+ on Xbox 360. Simple, addictive, difficult. N++ is conveniently named; it is N+ on steroids.
You are a ninja with 90 seconds to live. Or something. Here’s the deal: every section is basically 5 levels together. You progress through each one in turn with a limited time for all 5. Die in any and you restart from the last one of five you completed, run out of time and same deal. You can collect gold which gives you two seconds extra per piece.
The game has a deep and sick sense of humour about it. You’re a ninja, the story is handled deliberately with an amusing and deliberate lack of care. What you really need to know – there are 2,360 levels in the game, a brilliant difficulty curve and it gets really, really hard.
It looks minimal. Your ninja is basically a stick man and graphics are basic. But it’s really smooth and (depending how you set the options) the colour pallet changes with every section. It makes each section feel fresher than it probably should but this is a good thing (try going to the official site at nplusplus.org and push a numerical key to see). The soundtrack is also brilliant, it constantly plays over anything you’re doing without breaks, but merges one song to the next. It’s audible, you’re aware of it but at the same time you’re not – it’s tough to describe how it has a presence but not distracting yet additive to the game.
What pulls this all together is the gameplay. At first it feels floaty. But this gives you an incredible sense of control in the air as you float between different obstacles to narrowly miss death. Momentum is key, wall jumping and jumping up slopes speeds you up, which is necessary to avoid the number of mines, rockets, drones and clone ninjas. What you find is that pinpoint accuracy is later needed to maintain the momentum to navigate each course. You will find that certain routines have to be repeated on the controller and fine tuned as you die, then instantly restart to try again. Muscle memory kicks in as you die, repeat, try, die, repeat… your brain becomes wired into the game and once impossible levels get easier bit by bit as you make further and further progress through the game towards the exit.
Physics play a big part in time with the momentum – you can’t fall too far or you die, but certain obstacles aid you based on your momentum, for example bouncy blocks which can accelerate your height off of a jump. Included is a level editor which is very easy to use and upload, and it is immensely quick to find, download and play levels created by others. There’s also a set of co-op and race levels for two players. It’s offline only which is a shame, but thanks to the PS4’s built in SharePlay feature anyone on your friends list can be player 2.
There’s an insane amount of content in this game. Apparently there are a number of secrets too which I’ve not yet discovered (I’ve finished nearly half of the 2,360 levels in the game). What’s more, the game is discounted on PSN for another week before the price goes up and the first big update is promised to double the size of the game as well. There will be enough here to keep people going for a long time, assuming they don’t chuck their controllers through their TVs.
Reviewed on PS4