I’m constantly on the lookout for games with intriguing stories and immersive soundtracks. When I discovered the trailer for To Leave by Freaky Creations I knew I had to play it. The story follows Harm, a young boy whose soul is tormented by humanity and has fallen into a deep manic depression after suffering loss. He has closed himself off from the outside world and spiraled into a psychedelic universe full of ancient technology. His destiny was revealed to him by a pink fairy after drinking a concoction of mushrooms and other ingredients. In order to activate the temples and unlock the gates of Heaven, the souls of the universe must be harvested. The depth of the story is revealed in Harm’s journals. He adds an entry after each step of his mission is complete.
Not Your Father’s Platformer
To Leave is not your traditional platformer where you run, jump, climb, and so on. Instead, Harm gives a fraction of his soul to his Magic Door and floats through the dark void. Controlling the magically flying door is a challenging art. The opening levels teach you the mechanics on how to fly with the door, the importance of collecting ‘vibrance’ to power the door, and how to speed up. These are the core functions of the game. Seems simple enough, however, as you progress you begin navigating complex spaces full of flying bombs and angry people. Patience and precision timing are critical if you want to succeed.
I typically shy away from these types of platformers. I found myself addicted to the adrenaline and extreme sense of satisfaction as each level was completed. The most forgiving feature of this game is if you fail a level you simply give more of your soul to feed the door and try again.
A Treat for the Eyes and Mind
The artistry and soundtrack brilliantly complement both the story and gameplay. When Harm is in his dark, dingy apartment, the electronic tones of weariness and despair draw you closer to the torment he is experiencing. It is simply the embodiment of his depression. Each level represents the nemesis Harm is facing as he’s collecting the souls to activate that level’s temple. The world’s colors are vibrant, and the music enhances the psychedelic experience. As the ‘vibrance’ wears off, the door becomes heavy. You reach the pinnacle moment of your trip where everything simply becomes a blur. In order to continue Harm has to sacrifice more of his soul.
To Leave is currently available for $9.99 on Steam. If you enjoy challenging platformers with rich storylines that delve into the depths of depression and recreational substance use, then I highly recommend you check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
This review is based on a Windows PC copy provided by Novy Unlimited for the purpose of review coverage. It is also available on Mac, Linux, and PS4.