September 24, 2013 5:15 PM | Paul Hack
Paperthin is the first commercial game released by Nat Pash. It's an atmospheric roguelike platformer, and I've been enjoying it very much, mostly in quick bursts. It has procedurally generated levels and a cool variety of grotesque enemies with different behaviors and attacks. The setting is a nether-realm where monster-infested islands float in the void against a backdrop of megalithic pillars and fog. The lo-fi, grayscale visuals are striking and, coupled with the moody music, give the game a contemplative feel, despite the frequent, furious bouts of fighting.
You could say that Paperthin's silhouette aesthetic is similar to Limbo's, but these graphics are much more stylized and pixelated than those, and use many gradations of gray. More importantly, the gameplay's focus is squarely on combat and platforming rather than on any kind of puzzle-solving.
These are the basics: You can run, jump, and double-jump. You can jump up walls (as opposed to wall-jumping). You can perform a melee attack and you can dash. Dashing is the only effective attack against more powerful enemies, and works well against a group, too. Mastering the dash might be the key to longevity in this game.
You use this simple arsenal of moves in various combinations to survive as long as you can through progressively more difficult levels and tougher enemies. You start with 5 hearts, and a single hit from a monster will take one out. You can collect shards to replenish your hearts, or find more along the way.
Speed is of the essence in Paperthin. If you take too long reaching a level's exit (a white column that teleports you to the next floating island), then the world darkens and a being similar in appearance to the Angel of Death shows up. Like Otto in Berzerk, this invincible stalker will pursue you until you die or exit the level.
Paperthin is designed from the ground up to be highly replayable. I see it as something to which I'll keep returning, rather than a game I'll play for hours at a time. But I can see myself coming back for a quick fix for a long time to come.
Keyboard controls are explained in-game and work nicely, but an Xbox controller is supported and recommended by the developer for the best experience. You can buy Paperthin for $5.00 on the game's website. It's only available for Windows.
You can also support Paperthin on Steam Greenlight.