Where is My Heart? (PSP) PS3 Minis Review

     There is something special in Die Gute Fabrik's Where is My Heart?  A seemingly simple pixel-art 2D puzzle-platformer with an immense amount of charm and ingenuity.
     It's the story of 3 little monsters lost in a forest trying to get back to their home tree.  What makes this platform-puzzler oddity a bit more difficult is the disorienting way the levels are split up.  Instead of a straightforward platforming level, the screen is split up into a variety of different sized boxes that each give a small part of the area- and they are all mixed up.
     The concept is handled wonderfully and add to the story lending a good feeling to that of being truly lost.  All the tiles are placed so you may walk off the right side of the first tile on the bottom right panel and fall through the top left and land in a middle one somewhere else.

     In addition to the navigational puzzles, there are a few smaller puzzles, like hitting a heart box with a headbutt to open a new space, collecting hearts to create a walkway, or an evolution of the main characters that change the way the environment is interacted with.
     The brown monster transforms into a double-jumping reindeer called the Antler Ancestor that warps the stage into a twilight version of the stages and the two other monsters become tiny hovering versions of themselves.  The black monster can see the into another dimension once it becomes the Bat King, opening new paths and possibilities where they not have previously been.  And the orange monster turns into the Rainbow Spirit, a flying white block that can swirl and shuffle the panels around and it can actually float from on one to another during the shifting.  Over the course of the 2 hour game you gradually ease into each of the abilities and in the end use a team effort of combined abilities to find your way home.

     There might be some grand design behind the characters just as there is in the levels themselves.  Why does each evolution give each one a different perspective?  It could be a metaphor for using cooperation to create clarity and understanding in the world.  Once you think about that, each one using their own talents and perspective to navigate the world, it becomes the story of this small family working together to fix their broken image of the world.  Bringing order out of the jumbled and chaotic mess we typically see and transforming it into a manageable place is something we can all learn from.  

     When it comes down to it, the game is great because of its simplicity in both story and gameplay.  Three siblings having to work together to make sure they all make it home.  They didn't try and augment the game with an overabundance of the same crap over and over.  They avoided redundancy and the game is much better for doing so.  It isn't too complex- there's just enough challenge to keep it interesting without getting old.  When it comes down to it Where is My Heart? is really an exercise in restraint and minimalism- using cuteness to hide the fact this game is a subtle masterpiece.

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