Scarf is an unoriginal yet charming 3D puzzle-platformer. Here’s our review…
Almost three decades’ worth of 3D platformers have taught us that any plucky hero is only as good as the magical item they carry with them. In Scarf’s case, the game’s given away right from the off, with the titular attire being your primary means to whoosh through a trio of deeply atmospheric locations – all in the effort to (hopefully) elicit some heartfelt emotion. Much of the time this works beautifully; your wispy blue wanderer handles with grace as they launch between caverns or push blocks needed to solve the next puzzle laying before them. Other times, though, this relatively breezy adventure can feel a lot like a “baby’s first outing” in the genre, even if it is still a fun ride.
Scarf wastes no time sweeping you up in its metaphorical tale. As one of the last members of an ancient race, you soon get to work trying to discover what happened to the others by teaming up with a scarf. Luckily, this one just so happens to inhabit a dragon spirit containing several useful skills. It’s an intriguing setup, sure, yet the narrative largely comes over as wishy-washy. Saying that, it’s forgiveable considering the whimsical mood Scarf constantly evokes by way of its open level design, decent puzzle variety and emphasis on the deepening bond between these two central characters.
If there’s one major drawback, it’s that most players have likely already experienced many of the platforming challenges Scarf cooks up in bigger, higher-budgeted games. Moving platforms, levers in need of pulling… all the usual candidates are here. What helps the game stand out, however, is just how much it’s able to wring out of the core scarf concept. You’ll glide, swing, and slingshot your way around the world in all kinds of inventive scenarios, to the point that it’s no wonder that the best platforming sections are when you have to chain these various manoeuvres together in one clean sequence.
Scarf sees you constantly picking up new abilities that let you explore these lands in ways you couldn’t previously. But as well as offering extra freedom, it’s an appreciated extra touch that also helps further connect your hero with the dragon creature, communicating their friendship not through cutscenes or dialogue, but gameplay. Equally admirable and refreshing is Scarf’s complete lack of combat (and pretty much all forms of confrontation, really). Because while it would have been easy to litter the likes of the ocean, desert, and forest with their own type of meaningless enemy, it would only take away from the journey’s otherwise fairytale-like sensibilities.
Overall, Scarf isn’t one to blow your socks off when it comes to its particular brand of puzzles and platforming challenges. This doesn’t, however, take away from it being a short yet undoubtedly sweet journey full of spirit and passion. Like its eponymous namesake, Scarf is a woolly adventure expertly primed to wrap you up in its comfort for at least a few hours, and that’s perfectly fine.
When you’re not seeking out and hunting down fellow citizens or the orbs needed to power up your dragon companion, Scarf doesn’t disappoint with its collectables. Spanning simple toys, painted portraits, and bite-sized bits of story called inks, they help to further flesh out the context of Scarf’s mysterious world.
Scarf is a charm-filled 3D platformer that nails its core conceit, yet it could benefit from more original genre ideas.
Genre: puzzle-platformer | Format: PC(tested) | Developer: Uprising Studios | Publisher: HandyGames | Price:
£12.49 | Release: Out now