And Yet It Moves is a game that it seems lots of people own. Just after the release of Braid, And Yet It Moves was one of the next puzzle-platformers in that wave of that indie rise to prominence, and since its release five years ago it’s shown up in numerous bundles and crash sales. A simple, unassuming little game, it has its central mechanical idea – that of a physics-based platformer where you can freely rotate the stage – and all the levels play with that simple rudimentary idea.
You are a white piece of paper, in the shape of a person, moving past scribbled outlines through a landscape of torn paper you can whirl around. There’s a place you have to reach, an outline in a piece of paper.
That’s almost all there is to it.
Contrary to how I expected, And Yet It Moves’s level manipulation doesn’t create a feeling of exploratory freedom, but rather an intensely uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability. The game maintains inertia, and hitting anything at too fast a speed will tear the player to pieces.
Worse, And Yet It Moves has a pretty astute physics engine, one which can track your inertia over time, and make objects fall realistically – but unreliably. Puzzles often rely on throwing objects around by rotating the stage while they fall, which is pretty interesting – though it can occasionally mean that while you’re focused on a falling banana, you throw yourself into the sky and die.
This really didn’t work for me; despite the game giving me the ability to manipulate the world at will, even one extra rotation-oops-rotate-back in some situations turned a safe fall into a lethal one by adding maybe half a meter to any particular distance.
There’s no driving narrative, per se, in And Yet It Moves. It’s just a white paper drawing of presumably a human, finding a piece of paper from which they were torn. There are infinite lives so you can always try again, and you will have to try again because some of the puzzle pieces are repetitive as heck. The high failure rate is sort-of solved by the frequent check-points, but that doesn’t help me much. Some puzzles are annoying and come in two parts – having to redo the first part over and over again isn’t helpful at all.
The best game I can compare And Yet It Moves to is Hotline Miami, another game where the play experience was overwhelmingly important. Hotline Miami was a game so driven by the feel of play that its point, its narrative could be read as ‘story isn’t important.’
Honestly, I think And Yet It Moves is sincere in that. It’s not trying to make some point or put forward a grand statement. Its ambiguous protagonist isn’t necessarily secretly hiding a nuclear bomb or is its own mother’s emotions. This is just a game trying to make some levels and puzzles and that’s all there is to it. I’ve spoken positively about videogames that are ‘just videogames’ quite a bit lately – games like Ittle Dew and Steamworld Dig. And Yet It Moves is just another piece like that.
While I may most enjoy the ability to talk about characters and storytelling in videogames, or things like conveyance and design, not every game has to have a lot to talk about. And Yet It Moves is a competent little puzzler that I just didn’t like an awful lot.
One final note is that And Yet It Moves uses time trials and leaderboards to extend gameplay. That’s never been a thing that worked for me, but I know there are people for whom they do work well.
While And Yet It Moves is available on Steam and Humble, and often on sale there, I recommend if you’re interested, picking it up at its own website to support the devs directly.
Buy it if:
- You’re looking for an educational game with physics puzzles that’s safe for all audiences.
- You want a little simple puzzler that can fill a bit of time.
Avoid it if:
- You’re easily made sick or disoriented by moving stages.