Controller required for Moon Spider’s single player side-scrolling platformer Harold. This PC exclusive game also offers players two role-playing personas – superstar guardian angel Gabriel who gets matched up with the least talented runner named Harold.
Harold is a single player sidescrolling platformer with an emphasis on the high quality, hand-drawn style of classic animated films. You play as Gabe, the guardian angel responsible for guiding Harold through the multiple paths of each map, constantly saving your human charge from imminent death by manipulating obstacles in different environments. To edge out the other runners and prove your angelic abilities you’ll need every ounce of cunning and foresight you can muster, because your greatest hindrance is the oafish clumsiness of Harold himself!
The charming set up, strong visuals, and great humor highlight this game while the high challenge demands controller mastery. The controls are also the biggest obstacle in this running marathon that begins with entertaining cutscenes.
Superstar guardian angel Gabriel’s background as a guardian angel showcases his high status, notable successes, and natural giftedness while he hasn’t really “studied” to achieve his full potential or been very challenged when helping humans.
That all changes when the guardian angels are tasked with helping human race on foot. These angels “watch over humans and ensure their happiness in life”. Each guardian angel is assigned a runner with certain skills and Gabriel definitely gets the least talented runner named Harold.
The subtitles run slightly behind during the fun cutscenes as developers put players through tutorials and practices so they can progress through the game. The practice (and tutorials) break up each course very nicely so players are not overwhelmed and, most importantly, frustrated at the beginning.
Players must acquire wing rings that charges puff powers (1/2 for each ring). A full puff power (basically one “life” displayed in the upper left screen) encourages Harold or places him back in the race after elimination from all types of actions (often entertaining). Once players have Harold touch an assisting swinging rope, then the puff power is cancelled.
Players must also manipulate obstacles like sliding platforms to help Harold along the way. Harold and his competitors never stop running, which offers opportunities for more antics, but players cannot do much to interfere or alter the competing runners’ actions. That’s fair in the framework of a competitive sport, but added variables and influence would make this game more entertaining. It’s challenging enough to help Harold so eliminating the possibility of affecting the other runners is welcome thought it could have been a very challenging distraction.
Players must finish in the top three of six runners to progress through levels. Players can try three modes of each race – practice, race, and challenge. Players can achieve a three star maximum in each practice section to get a special advantage in the main race.
Each course has more than one possible path, which usually requires multiple runs at each one while avoiding obstacles that include crocodiles and slippery icicles.
Players take on challenges in the jungle, desert, tropics and arctic the uniquely designed courses. The colors blend well and are distinct so players don’t get lost in the environments.
The Dualshock 4 (PS4) controller and Xbox 360 or Xbox One controllers work as well as any PC controller. The timing of the jumps and movements are essential and challenging. A touch control option would be ideal for a future iteration of this game as well as a multiplayer mode.
Players also get online leaderboards, Steam trading card support and achievement support. The game’s soundtrack has great themes including some pieces utilizing a 30-member choir.
Echoes of the Rayman platform game series are unavoidable here, but Harold stands on its own as a worthy experience that challenges and entertains all ages of players.
What I Like: appealing visuals, humorous elements, story/premise, music, detailed environments, challenge level
What Needs Improvement: no multiplayer mode, more opportunities to interactive with other runners