Perfectly Paranormal are a relatively normal Norwegian developer having survived to preadolescence as of writing this if their YouTube uploads are an indicator of the date of birth. While their first release was a hitherto-unfinished point-n-click saga about an able fish, Manual Samuel was the one that made a few waves with gameplay that recalled Octodad in pointlessly (?) complicating everyday life and having a laugh at the pitfalls of exaggerated game design. Following it up with another game in the same universe, many repeating characters, and another original take on interaction with the on-screen avatar, they should have scored equally big with 2020's Helheim Hassle yet somehow didn't if Steam review counts are anything to go by. Instead it ended up in the Steam 250 "Hidden Gems" list for some time. What happened here?
On the surface, the game is about a viking boy called Bjørn who's very much not into the blood-spilling sport the rest of his tribe seems hell-bent on (or more like heaven-bent since they all want to end up in Valhalla, an honorable achievement). Despite his best efforts to skirt around skirmishes, Bjørn accidentally butchers a bear and seals his fate on the wrong side of the afterlife. Together with a skeletal companion of uncertain origin, he embarks on a journey towards Helheim where life is supposedly a little less hyper. This is the backbone of the story, with familiar dialogue trees and inventory puzzles here and there in-between all the puzzles.
So the USP is really a conglomeration of loosely connected things... your body parts! As you proceed through the tutorially bits, your joints come undone one by one until the entirety of your four limbs and head have become detachable from your torso. Aside from snazzy juggling acts, this enables you to reach levers and pressure plates [simultaneously] you otherwise couldn't have. You might think that sounds perfect for crafting puzzles around. It is! Not crafting puzzles, mind you. This kind of mechanics aren't quite completely new... but I can't for the life of me find the other game I know of where you detach parts of your body to make progress. It was in a Zero Punctuation review once maybe 5 years ago (this review is from 01/03/2023). Drop me a line in the Discord?
At any rate, with this kind of gameplay, a feeling of de-ja-vu isn't going to beset you very soon. The devs were very wary of letting it grow stale so new ideas are thrown in the mix all the way to the end. If you wanted to also 100% the game (adding many hours of playtime), that's when you may encounter some repetition. The negatives you're likely to see can largely be summed in the words "for kids". The cute narrative is unlikely to quite satiate a solo adult player's hunger for edification or uproarious entertainment though it never resembles bona fide bad writing either, just juvenile. Similarly the puzzles are generally a very modest challenge, although finding ways to cheat them is another topic altogether (I managed to find at least one game-breaking-seeming glitch and a few "just barely works" type of unintended solutions, which was fun)! As a bonus, you may find it a captivating pastime to decipher the runic alphabet used in this game, which isn't quite the simplest task given many words are obscure Norse-sounding names. In any case, the game is undeservedly obscure itself and deservedly a member of the Top Dog pack on our site. Two thumbs up, way up!Reviewed by: LotBlind