“Ibb and Obb” is a two-player game which challenges players to solve puzzles using two different planes, each of which has opposing gravitational forces. It’s a beautifully designed game, inhabited by geometric, non-binary characters—I never thought I would care so deeply for a circle with eyes. However, do not let the cute design fool you; the puzzles are something most gamers have never encountered before.
The game was originally Richard Boeser‘s graduation project, before it was designed and published by the Dutch two-man studio Sparpweed. Its adorable graphics and serene electronic soundtrack caught the attention of Sony at the IndieCade in 2008. Sony picked up the game and released it in 2013 for the Playstation and 2014 for the PC Steam version.
The overall aesthetic is an abstract, colorful natural landscape. Coupled with a calming electronic soundtrack, the game would make players believe it’s a fun, leisurely game. It’s an undeniably cute game, which causes a rude shock when players realize how challenging it really is. “Ibb and Obb” is ridiculously hard and after a few minutes, these adorable creatures and calm scenery become a trigger for a full-on temper tantrum.
“Ibb and Obb” ruined my confidence and my relationship. Much like an “I Spy” book, it initially appeared to be simplistic in its nature and geared for a younger audience. However, as both “Ibb and Obb” and “I Spy” continue, they reveal themselves to be virtually impossible to finish.
It’s a simple idea, which is made complex by challenging platforming and physics. The players have to use the opposing gravitational forces to their advantage in order to progress through the levels, while also being mindful of the black spikey balls of death. Players must also work together, using each other as platforms and utilizing the other’s momentum to propel them forward. Playing this game with my significant other was a huge mistake.
One aspect of the game requires players to stand on opposite planes on a double-sided trampoline of sorts. In order for one character to reach the next platform, the other must use their momentum to land on the trampoline and send the other on its way. It requires expert communication between the players, which is something the average couple lacks. This resulted in quite a few screaming matches between my boyfriend and me.
“Ibb and Obb” is very forgiving when it comes to dying in the game, which happens more than you would expect. However, constantly re-spawning in front of a puzzle you have done 100 times does not ease the stress.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe this is a poorly designed game. It’s a brilliant take on puzzle games which incorporates physics in a new way. Nonetheless, it is stupidly hard to the point where “You fucknugget” is now a phrase regularly exchanged between players during the puzzles. “Ibb and Obb” is truly an amazing idea; it’s just impossible to beat.
Ibb and Obb is available on Steam and Playstation 3.