Review: Ibb & Obb is a delightful adventure best enjoyed with a pal

The world of Ibb & Obb is a magical, colorful, wondrous place that's a joy to visit. It's also somewhat of a confusing, frustrating place. That's not a knock against this jovial effort from developer Sparpweed in conjunction with Codeglue, though. Ibb & Obb is, for all intents and purposes, a great puzzler that's not afraid to truly mess with your brain, and while this particular downloadable adventure can be a solo undertaking, it's very clearly suited for playing alongside someone else. Specifically, this is a game you play with a friend right next to you, because that's the way you'll get the most enjoyment out of it.

Ibb & Obb is the very definition of a two-player couch co-op adventure. One player takes control of Ibb while another plays as Obb. The main hook is the gravity gameplay, which often requires one individual to run across the top field while the other is flipped upside-down directly below his or her pal. Things start off simple enough, but it doesn't take long for the game's many puzzles to become incredibly challenging and even a tad infuriating at times. Thankfully, all of those tough puzzles always end with a high level of satisfaction once you figure them out.

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Many times, both players must work together while on the same field. This is simple enough if you're on the top side where gravity is normal. It's those moments when you're upside-down that really force you to think in order to progress. Not surprisingly, the tougher puzzles in Ibb & Obb tend to be relegated primarily to the lower field. That's fine, and it certainly makes sense from a design standpoint, but you really need to be aware of your surroundings and get accustomed to controlling your adorable, tiny upside-down creature.

If you're playing locally with a buddy, even the toughest of challenges can be overcome without having to worry about doubt creeping into your mind. Unfortunately, if you choose to play Ibb & Obb by yourself, you're in store for a few unpleasant experiences and possibly even some fits of anger that eventually lead up to a good old-fashioned ragequit. While playing the game by myself, I encountered several puzzles that were just far too difficult to clear on my own, so I found it best to step away from the game and clear my mind of all the negativity associated with not being able to complete more than a handful of challenges thrown my way.

Play with someone online, and you're likely to have mixed feelings about the difficulty. As long as both players are on the same track, it's easy to solve most puzzles. You can even communicate by drawing lines using the right analog stick. Sadly, you won't always be on the same page, because the pace for solving puzzles varies from person to person. There were a few instances where I immediately knew what to do when playing online, only to realize that other players were stuck. Despite my best efforts to guide these individuals, I realized that they were going to have to take their time and figure things out on their own.

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One of the better online experiences I had was while playing with another writer who was pretty good about communicating with me via Twitter and had a good grasp of the puzzles. Still, absolutely nothing beats playing with a buddy by your side, because the communication is more organic and seamless, and it's just easier to figure out who does what. As a local co-op experience, Ibb & Obb shines bright and is wonderfully brilliant, tasking players with multiple objectives and rewarding them for working together.

By far one of the strongest aspects of Ibb & Obb is its graphical presentation. Simply put, the game looks gorgeous, and the way the various colors are combined to create the dreamlike worlds is really awesome to witness. There's an undeniable artistry in the whole thing, and seeing how pinks and violets fade into greens and blues is a sight worth beholding. If you get hit by an enemy, both Ibb and Obb burst into hundreds of tiny dots, further adding to the almost surrealistic aesthetic.

The music is also rad, with various themes providing a lovely soundtrack for the whole experience. Music goes through several changes throughout the course of your run through Ibb & Obb. Sometimes you can hear a calming, serene track guiding you through the world, while other times a funky beat plays on and gets crazier as you encounter harder puzzles or large enemies. Oh, and the track that plays whenever you clear a level is among the best musical offerings in the game. (It's doubly charming when you see Ibb and Obb dancing around with other similarly blob-like characters.)

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You can get through Ibb & Obb in roughly five or six hours. While not especially lengthy, that's a pretty good amount of time for a game that you should play with the helping hand of a friend. The game's 15 levels are fairly lengthy, and if you're the exploratory type, you can even seek out an additional eight levels, which are tucked away within the main stages.

If you're going to play Ibb & Obb by yourself, there's a lot of fun to be had. Sometimes it's next to impossible controlling both Ibb and Obb simultaneously with the left and right analog sticks, but the premise and the levels are entertaining and satisfying regardless. That entertainment and that satisfaction, however, are amplified to the nth degree if you're playing with someone else. As a single-player affair, this title's intense and merciless. If you have someone sitting right next to you, ready to venture forth into a beautiful land rife with adventure and puzzles, Ibb & Obb is a game you should not miss.

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