Supposedly, during his historic trial before the Catholic Church, the pioneering scientist Galileo Galilei muttered “and yet it moves” under his breath when the Church insisted that the Earth was a solitary object. The story is considered by historians to be mostly apocryphal but it does make for a badass retort, and fits Galileo’s defiant personality perfectly. It’s also a perfect name for Broken Rules’ indie platformer. And Yet it Moves the game has, at first blush, little to do with the legendary Italian astronomer. However, like its spiritual sibling Braid, there’s more going on beneath the surface of this game.
Originally released on the PC last year and now on the WiiWare service, And Yet it Moves is like Braid in a couple key ways. It’s a throwback to classic 16-bit platformers, but has a highly abstract art style and one unique element that literally turns the platforming gameplay on its head.
And Yet it Moves is played like your average platformer, but implements Galileo’s ideas of momentum and rotation in a big way. At any time you can stop the game in its tracks and rotate the world around your character. This takes the emphasis off any kind of enemy-stomping or powerup collecting, and centers it firmly on the best aspect of platforming: navigating a complex world of environmental puzzles using only your wits.
Just because there are no traditional enemies doesn’t mean you can get careless. Much like the hero of Limbo your character is rather fragile, and while his deaths aren’t nearly as gruesome, it’s just as easy to kill him if you aren’t careful. Spinning the world around him is all well and good, but as he travels your character picks up momentum and retains it—keep him moving for too long, and an apparent distance of a couple meters is fatal when mixed with prolonged momentum.
There are also environmental hazards that must be avoided or removed by manipulating gravity. Branches snap off of trees, rocky ground crumbles and a helpful swinging platform might just come back to crush you if you don’t pay attention to the relative inertia. My favorite puzzle involved a rock-throwing monkey; I had to rotate the scenery 180 degrees just as he’d tossed a rock at a perfectly perpendicular angle to himself. Naturally, with gravity inverted the rock fell straight down onto his head, knocking him out of the way. Thankfully there are plenty of strategically placed checkpoints in case you mess up, although the game does keep track of the number of deaths you accrue.
The game isn’t nearly as bleak as Limbo but is just as artistic in its own way. In fact the whole thing looks like a paper patchwork that would be right at home in an amateur gallery. Each environment is composed of shreds of colored paper and photographs, each with their own texture and design. It’s as if the trees, rocks, caves and ground were made of scraps torn out of various magazines and pasted together. The creatures you encounter look like they’ve been snipped out of a National Geographic—in one level, you must get a terrifying monster to chase you through a tunnel, dodging its attacks as it breaks down barriers and clears the way for you. The monster is actually a flat photo of a cute guinea pig with horns taped to its head. In contrast to the vivid environments your character is a black and white pencil doodle with spiky hair, his body constructed from individual snippets of white paper. His sketchy movements and clear contrast with the torn-photo backgrounds make the game look like an undergrad animation project. Appropriately, player deaths are tallied up as “rips.”
The music and sound effects are minimalist but compliment the art style nicely. The melodies typically follow a simple repeating tune with a tribal percussion backbeat. Background effects are mostly distorted samples of nature sounds and animal calls, but several of the sounds are actually whimsical human vocalizations, as if someone is playing along and interjecting the appropriate sounds with their voice. The sound selection works well and gives the game an offbeat but lighthearted feel.
In addition to the original levels, time trial modes and game modifiers from the PC release, the Wii version has seen some welcome additions. Three new levels have been added to the main sequence, and while the game is still a bit too short this does extent replay value.
More significant, though, is the addition of full analog control for the rotation. The original game only let you rotate the world 90 degrees at a time and analog precision makes it much easier to control just how fast you’re going and where you end up landing. To facilitate this, the Wii version has three control schemes: standalone Wii remote, remote-Nunchuk combo and Classic Controller. Twisting the Wii remote in NES controller orientation worked well enough, and the Classic pad’s shoulder buttons got the job done, but using the “keyhole” setup to twist the Wii pointer while moving with the Nunchuk stick felt the most natural to me.
While And Yet it Moves has been available on Steam for over a year the Wii port is, for all intents and purposes, the superior version. While the brilliant gravity-bending platforming still doesn’t last nearly as long as I’d like it too, the new levels give you a bit more bang for your buck and the full analog Wii control is superior to the PC counterpart. It’s only 10 bucks on either platform (that’s 1000 Wii points) and you get a lot of creative quality content for the money, so if you have a Wii, And Yet it Moves is one of the best purchases you can make on WiiWare.