Terry Cavanagh shows us he has some good ideas, then simply gives up.
I'm going to go out on a limb and admit that I think VVVVVV
is highly overrated.
I love retro-styled indie games. I love games with awesome chiptunes and intense but deterministic difficulty. Bit Trip
and Super Meat Boy
were both up my alley. However, while VVVVVV had 10/10 presentation and 10/10 music, as a game, it was simply... empty.
The gameplay length is less than an hour; if you have the game memorized, you can beat it in about 20 minutes. You might take another hour to hunt down the game's shiny trinkets, only to unlock... a five-roomed secret lab with one minigame in it. Unless you're interested in speedrunning or beating the game with minimal deaths, don't expect to get more than an hour's worth of gameplay, or maybe up to three if you aren't a veteran of other, harder games like IWBTG.
The game is touted as being nonlinear with no restrictions except for your skill. However, this basically turns the overworld into a level-select hub with all five levels already unlocked. Each level demonstrates a new mechanic, but each is only about 12 rooms long, and are exactly as linear as a Mario level. The overworld itself, while nonlinear, is completely, utterly, disappointingly empty; there are no rogue enemies to dodge or puzzles to solve, and you'd be lucky to find a couple of the eponymous spikes here and there. It's a stretch to even call it a maze. And because the game has no powerups, there's nothing to really look for except the level entrances or the shiny trinkets.
The story deserves mention. It had me interested at the beginning when the ship crash-landed and teleported Viridian somewhere random, but from there... I don't know. The plot involves the captain of some ship crash-landing in some dimension, where there's some kind of disturbance caused by some kind of technology planted by some kind of forerunners in some kind of alternate reality. And that's it; there are literally no spoilers to give. The story simply doesn't explain itself; as if an outline of a good story was written, but then they forgot to fill it in with plot. I wonder if the story could have been more compelling if executed with no dialogue at all.
VVVVVV is a clever, fun, but practically nonexistant game. I'd recommend buying it for the music alone, though; it has some of the best chiptunes I've ever heard.