If you’ve ever played a game published by Ratalaika Games, you kind of know what you’re getting. Typically, it’s an easy 1000 gamerscore with a low price barrier. Sometimes, extremely easy. For me, a Ratalaika game and the almost guaranteed full 1000 offsets other games that I invest a lot of time into but that pays out relatively low gamerscore. For example, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and it’s DLC set me back almost 400 hours but only earned me 1850G. So, why the long lead-in? I guess it’s because I was eager to compensate for my low PPH (points-per-hour) eked out with AC:O with the high PPH that Zero Zero Zero Zero would offer.
When asked why the game is named Zero Zero Zero Zero, developer Alvaro said it was because when he started coding it, that was his bank account balance. Hopefully that’s no longer the case, as the game has been ported to every current platform out there, including the Vita. For the purposes of not having to type Zero a thousand times during this review, I’m going to abbreviate the game’s title to 0000.
So, as I mentioned earlier, I was happy to review a game published by Ratalaika. Even though 0000 is a platformer (a low-rez, minimalist, black & white 1-bit platformer) and I am terrible at that type of game, it didn’t matter because I didn’t intend to spend a lot of time getting my points before moving on.
I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised at how well the game played, looked, and entertained during my time with it. I was challenged and still haven’t earned the last achievement, which is to beat 34 levels. The levels don’t seem difficult though, which kept me happily chugging away at a game I was pretty sure wouldn’t keep my attention for long. That’s the thing, the magic of a good game, especially one that seems easy but keeps the interest revved even while it punishes. A good game doesn’t let you forget it, it allows you to think that success is right there, at the tips of your fingers.
Luckily, the low system resources keep the game on pace. I do think that if I had time to lament how crappy I was doing after a level I would have given up. 0000 smacked me down and immediately gave me a new level to try. Oftentimes it was a level I’d tried before and one that I almost beat, so there was motivation to learn from my last go-around and every retry I thought to myself, “I’m going to do it this time.”
One thing that did annoy was the stat tracking on the last achievement, both in game and in the achievements tab on the Xbox. 0000 didn’t give a progress indicator, and the achievement tracker kept the number of levels beaten at 0%. There were times when I finally beat a level and wholly expected that achievement to pop, but it didn’t. Even now, I’m uncertain how many levels I need to finally get that last one. I suppose many would argue that now knowing when and the striving towards it will make finally getting it so much sweeter, and maybe they’re right. I just know that it’s bugging me right now that I’m not back in the game trying to get it done, but that I’m sitting here writing this review for you instead.
Zero Zero Zero Zero isn’t a typical Ratalaika game – it’s deceptively more challenging and rewarding than the usual fare that they publish. Don’t overlook 0000 based on it’s minimalist presentation and spartan effects because the lack of distractions allow for better focus on the game’s solid platforming. The tight controls and the lag-free timing enable precision jumps, but even failing a level (which is always due to the avatar’s death) isn’t a big deal because a new level pops up immediately, keeping the action going.