Moon Spider Studio debuts with Harold, a fresh and challenging 2d side-scrolling race game about the most incompetent runner ever to need protection from a guardian angel. With quick thinking, quicker thumbs and opportunistic eyes we will need to guide Harold to victory against all odds.
Here is a cool twist: we don’t handle Harold, we help him. We are actually a guardian angel in school, where angels are trained to become guardians of humanity. For their final exam, students are tasked with safely guiding a human as they race through deadly obstacle courses, working to ensure their human not only survives but is at the head of the pack.
We will assume then the role of Gabe, a top student with natural talent who only needs to place third in the final exam races to earn a coveted scholarship to Archangel Academy. But destiny is cruel and we are matched up with Harold, a determined but physically inept racer. And when we say inept we mean useless. He will run and that’s it, he will die without intervention while other angels are paired with elite athletes able jump and dodge deadly traps with ease.
The title is an auto-running platformer and Harold runs straight along the path until he’s commanded to jump by pressing a button or sent into a brief sprint using a “Puff Power”, which is also used as extra lives for Harold. But a short sprint is not everything we will need. Far from that, we must manage Harold and his environment simultaneously to finish each of the game’s twelve races.
Each race has a good amount of different objects to interact. We will need to timely lure a crocodile to eat our enemies, but be fast enough to smash it and put it to sleep for Harold’s safety. We will need to help Harold cross bridges, but be fast enough to make everyone else fall. Each object is an obstacle for Harold and is our job to make it easier for him, but harder for the other competitors. This means we will manage Harold’s ineptitude, intervene with the environment and at the same time we will have to pick different routes, which means different obstacles.
Harold is a fun challenge, but it may be a little too difficult sometimes. Specially for a game where you can’t pick between Easy, Normal, Hard, etc. You also are not allowed to change key bindings, so you will have to play it as the developer wants you to play. This means you will need to practice and erase any kind of counter intuitive gameplay you find.
The title features a hand-drawn animation style, it’s bright and colorful with rich details. Let me tell you this: the graphics are so good that are almost a waste on a game where the player barely has a chance to observe their surroundings when the game is so fast. Cutscenes in the other hand are not nearly as impressive, but they come with an almost perfect voice acting. You will enjoy it, and that’s the point.
Harold is a mix of charming premise, beautiful graphics and demanding gameplay. If you are one of those type of players who appreciate auto-running platform games then you will find it to be a fresh approach to the concepts found in such titles and a worthy challenge.