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Sidekick High

Sidekick High


Developer: CMMN CLRS The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2017.05.20
Genre: Fantasy / Comedy
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click









Have you ever wondered where superheroes come from? They need to learn they stuff from some place, right? Sidekick High is a school for people... or living entities, at least, who have some kind of superpowers. That doesn't matter much, honestly, because that's mostly irrelevant to what happens in the game called Sidekick High. To describe the game in least words possible, it's an escape room game with two screens. That would be a shameful understatement to what the game really is all about though.

In it's seemingly small package, Sidekick High offers a lot. To begin with, there is a plot. It goes something like this, some kids with superpowers are in this school, and their crazy teachers make them go through this test where they need to escape in 60 minutes or they will all die. Admittedly, that is just an excuse to have some motive to have this escape room situation, but with many escape room games having no plot at all, it's certainly a step up from that. And yes, that death threat is real - if the player can't escape in 60 minutes, the game is over with a message that everyone died.

Darryl in the left room.Darryl in the left room.
The real beauty lies in the game mechanics. There are two identical twins, Darryl and Darrell, who are both locked in neighbouring rooms with two other characters in each room. Everything you need is in these two rooms, there are no fetch quests to run around. Well, to the point interacting with other characters acts like fetch quests, as they can provide items which are beyond your own reach or abilities, but mostly everything is available and it's just a challenge of using things properly. At some point it will be possible to exchange objects between the two rooms, so this adds the aspect of co-operating and character switching to the game.

There are some amusing characters, sidekicks if you will, in the game. A girl who has the power to project light and produce coffee inside her body (we don't want to know how exactly...), another girl who can turn into a snail in proper conditions, a guy who is afraid of girls, and one more guy who can speak backwards and pass through objects. Some puzzles require talking to these characters, whereas some conversations are there just for the fun. And yes, the game is completely voice acted with pleasant enough voice actors.

Darrell in the right room.Darrell in the right room.
And the puzzles are very good. They are challenging enough, but easy in the sense that one doesn't need to resort to any mental gimmicks to solve them. The game has a perfect balance in its difficulty, which of course may be different for each player, but mostly the game is solvable in 60 minutes, but finding out solution to all puzzles and escaping in 60 minutes can still take it to the very last minutes. Of the two clichés in the adventure genre, fetch quests and locked doors, Sidekick High avoids the first one as already mentioned, but is a bit heavy on the second one. Both rooms have their own doors, and each door has not one, but two locks, so in order to escape, the player must find ways to open four different locks, each having their own ways of unlocking. As the game is a modification of an escape room scenario, this isn't at all a bad thing, and the different lock types offer a good variety of game mechanics, ranging from the classic finding a key that fits the lock, to having locks that are built on audiovisual cues.

If one wants to dig for something to criticise about the game, some of aspects of it are clearly done by avoiding the most time-consuming ways. For instance, both protagonists hover above the floor. This does add to the supernatural superpower theme of the game for sure, but it also means that the developers skipped the trouble of creating walking animations for the characters. It's a very minor thing, but with everything else being so good about the game, it sticks out just a little bit.

In the end, Sidekick High is a real masterpiece! It offers more content in its two rooms than many commercial games do, and the game being actually freeware from the start, there's really no reason for any adventure fan not to play it. (In case the double negation was unclear, in plain English: play it!) With technical things being very good, difficulty perfectly balanced, puzzles and overall content offering a great deal of challenges and fun in the same package, delivered with all the nice things, like nice cartoon graphics and voice acting, what's there not to like? The game also offers one thing that no other game in the genre presumably has: when bringing up the end game dialogue, the game offers not only the usual choices of "yes" and "no", but also a third option "maybe". Brilliant. Sidekick High, an engaging small size masterpiece for sure.

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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