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Review: Spinch, Queen Bee Games

Time and time again small indie developers prove they can create a game as interesting and visually distinct as something that would come out of a triple-A studio, with Spinch being no exception to this rule. Award-winning Cartoonist Jesse Jacobs' unique psychedelic style is at the forefront of this quirky puzzle platformer. With a set of tight intuitive controls and a nifty 8-bit soundtrack composed by James Kirkpatrick, Queen Bee Games’ Spinch is a wonderfully bizarre gaming experience.

The plot of the game is fairly simplistic, a psychedelic storm is brewing and it's your job as the Spinch to save your offspring and save the world! It’s basic which is perfectly fine, it doesn’t need to be anything more than that. The gameplay, puzzles, and visual elements speak for themselves and the plot is there in the background to let them shine. The movement is sleek and precise as you traverse the space with jumps, dashes, and wall jumps, it rarely feels like the game is at fault for your mistakes which ultimately feels rewarding when you finally complete and intricate jumping segment or puzzle. Speedrunning is also heavily encouraged with the leader board feature, and each world also consists of two bonus mini-games giving you a few extra hours of game time and some nice replay value. The difficultly is something that peaks naturally with each world introducing its own set of unique mechanics and a boss you kill to progress through, it’s certainly a challenge but nothing too overwhelming if you are familiar with the genre.

Spinch is a brilliant visual delight and you wholeheartedly get the sense Jacobs has enjoyed every moment of creating this bizarre 2D world, that looks like it jumped straight out of a Jimi Hendrix album cover. From the background, to the monsters chasing you, I still find myself amazed by the sheer spectacle and detail within the levels. The game deserves ample praise for its visual storytelling, as the team conveys this idea of the Spinch’s world slowly succumbing to the ongoing storm. World one is this serene woodland setting tarnished by streaks of bold color seeping through, by world five the landscape is fully enveloped within this sublime technicolor tornado. It's nice to see how the landscapes evolve and develop whilst still retaining their original identity as you journey further on your quest. Kirkpatrick brings the same amount of passion, detail, and flair as the visuals, with his phenomenally retro 8-bit soundtrack matching perfectly with the art. I thoroughly enjoyed listening along and it never hindered the experience only enhanced it. There are wonderful little details in the soundtrack too: the music subtly changes whenever you enter or exit the water and the icicles on world five fall to the musical beats and become additional notes within the music. The attention to detail immerses you completely and makes you feel like you are a part of a special and carefully crafted gaming experience.

As much praise as I’ve given the game it's not without its occasional hiccups and minor setbacks. The water levels on world four feel like a harsh change of pace from the tight movement options you become familiar with from worlds one to three. It's not that these levels are inherently bad, I rather enjoyed them, but in comparison, your Spinch feels sluggish and at times frustrating to control in the water. Bugs are few and far between but still worth mentioning, it's nothing cataclysmic and won’t ruin your overall experience, but don’t be surprised if occasionally your Spinch dies to an odd hitbox or a giant worm loses its body. I have every faith this will be smoothed over within a patch but for now you might have to deal with it.

Queen Bee Games’ Spinch is a one of a kind gaming experience, one that feels like a personally crafted love letter to the platformer genre. Steeped in psychedelic influences a funky soundtrack and some genuinely great level design, Spinch is a game that arrives on Switch and PC on September 3rd and something you won’t want to miss out on.

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