Published on March 25th, 2015 | by Justin Giza0
Harold is a light-hearted single-player sidescrolling runner game with a fun story and (thankfully) a lot of refreshing twists to keep you on your toes. Rather than structure it like an endless runner, the levels in Harold finite and complete, each with their own shortcuts, secrets and traps. The in-game animation is truly fantastic, and the characters are pretty adorable.
The story follows the Guardian Angel Gabe, who is tasked with keeping the scrawny Harold safe as he competes with other racers for glory. Where other angels have been charged with significantly more athletic racers, Gabe is being taught a lesson in humility.
The first thing the player will notice is that Harold is not terribly fit. He is notably slower than most every other runner you’ll try to pass, and his jumping skills leave something to be desired. Where the other runners float through the air like SlamBall players, Harold struggles to get what little lift he can. Luckily, he has a tricky angel on his side.
Gabe has a few tricks up his sleeve. As Harold races through the course, he can collect Wingrings which provide subunits of Puff Power. Each full unit of Puff Power can be expended to give Harold a temporary speed boost, or if he meets an untimely demise, he’ll be saved and given another shot at glory.
I was a little confused about the requirements for a controller to play Harold, but the reasons quickly became clear and amped up the clever design of this seemingly simple game.
Harold needs to avoid traps such as your run-of-the-mill spikes and pits, but Gabe’s powers allow him to mess with traps and platforms to help Harold reach the end of a particular screen – and also to put opponents at a disadvantage. See a runner ahead of you? Shift a platform and watch them fall! Snap a trap and send them flying! Interference might make you feel like you’re not winning a fair fight, but look at the guy. Harold needs all the help he can get!
Bumbling through the courses didn’t prove to be an easy task. Difficulty jumped pretty quickly, but I’m admittedly bad at this style of game. That said, my incessant nose-dives into spiked pits never got frustrating. Different modes are offered for the player, and each course has a practice mode that will show you the optimal path. As stated before, it isn’t as simple as following the shortcuts. You’ve got to mess with your opponents. It’s a weird sort of multitasking that requires a lot of fast reflexes and practice in order to get a great time.
I’d recommend this game for players of all ages who enjoy games with a great, hand-drawn animation style. The gameplay is casual enough, but should sufficiently challenge the perfectionists.