Developer: Tommy Søreide Kjær
Tommy Søreide Kjær
Google Play / iOS

Reviewed on Android (Google Play)

The Bottom Line: As quirky and colorful as it is challenging, this inventive auto-runner is a platformer that puts you in control of the platforms.

Recently I made a risky decision that put my sanity, my digital safety, and my wallet all on the line: I purchased a game from the Play Store that had no visible reviews. Zero. None. Nada. But as they say, with great risk comes great reward, and as it turns out, not only is said game not Scandinavian spyware, it’s also quite a bit of fun!

The game in question is Psychofunk, the auto-running platformer that puts you in control of the platforms, and if you enjoy clever games and have a spare moment, you’d do well to go check it out for yourself.

Funk it Up

Psychofunk’s concept is simple. Your goal is to help a bipedal cassette-player button reach the bottom of each stage. But instead of controlling the character directly, you manipulate its path by tapping buttons built into the game’s platforms. For instance, the most basic button retracts when tapped, allowing Button Guy to drop down to the next floor and move closer to his destination.

Press button, evade spike

Just like the Energizer Bunny, Button Guy never stops moving. If he bumps into a wall, he’ll turn and walk back the way he came; if he struts off a platform, he’ll continue strutting in the same direction after he lands. His movement is predictable, and this predictability serves as a backbone, supporting all of the game’s mechanics.

And let me tell you, there is no shortage of mechanics here. Psychofunk is surprisingly deep, but you wouldn’t know it from playing the first few levels, which are simple to the extreme: Tap a block, let Button Guy drop, collect a few coins, reach the end. Simple. Too simple. I had severe doubts that the game would be able to hold my interest for long.

Just Hit the Funk Button

But Psychofunk soon started surprising me, and once it started it just wouldn’t quit. The game has a repair shop’s worth of spare buttons at its disposal, and it constantly introduces new ones. One button shoots Button Guy upward. Another button retracts some platforms while causing others to protrude. There are buttons that crumble like sand; buttons that have to be activated in a certain order; buttons that rotate to reveal spikes on their undersides; buttons that suck up Button Guy like a vacuum cleaner and transport him to a different area. Buttons upon buttons upon buttons. Nearly every level introduces a new type of button – and sometimes more than one! – and the level of variety is such that no two challenges feel alike.

Even the title art is funky

In your journey to the bottom of the Buttonverse, you’ll also stumble into plenty of enemies and bosses. The most common enemies are spiked creatures that you need to avoid, pesky but not too troublesome. You can handle them by trapping them, stomping on them, or simply finding ways to skirt around them.

Boss battles are a different story. Boss monsters fill the screen, and to defeat them you have to uncover and attack their weak points. Each time you hit the boss, it will transform, growing faster and adding new attacks to its repertoire. These battles are intense, and I found that even if I could read a boss monster’s moves, it still took practice to train my fingers to react with the necessary speed and precision.

No Rest for the Funky

Despite the fact that this is a mobile game packed with cutesy charm, it’s far from easy. You will need to study the levels, figure out what buttons to press, and tap with speed and purpose. While there are no difficulty settings, there are mechanics that can make the game easier or harder.

The world map has multiple paths, so you can tricky stages if you need to

For instance, each level has three coins to collect. Each time you collect one of the three coins in a stage, Button Guy will quicken his pace, forcing you to press buttons faster and faster if you hope to keep up.

To open the doors to the boss battles and progress in the game, you need to collect a certain number of these coins. Thankfully, however, there are more than enough to go around, so if you’re having trouble with a particular level you can ignore some or all of coins and still move forward. In fact, many of the levels can be skipped entirely. It’s a generous design that makes the difficulty more palatable. On the other hand, there’s no escaping the bosses. You either learn how to beat them or get stuck trying.

A short game, Psychofunk took me about three hours to complete. Were it any longer, I might’ve grown frustrated with the high level of challenge, but the ever-revolving carousel of fresh buttons ensured that each new stage felt exciting. At a time when many games are content to recycle the same mechanics level after level, hour after hour, it was refreshing to play one that remained engaging throughout and knew when to call it a wrap. Whenever developer Tommy Søreide Kjær releases his next game, I’ll be certain to take a look.

Rating: 86 of 100 Pixels