One glimpse at And Yet It Moves should be enough to tell you that this is no ordinary platformer. You see a hasty sketch of a man ambling through a patchwork world of sharp textures bound by torn paper edges. But just as you're starting to appreciate the do-it-yourself visual appeal, the world shifts. Down is no longer down. The ground has become a wall, and the man is falling through space. The world shifts again, and the man lands safely on a surface that was a ceiling just a few seconds earlier. It's all relative in And Yet It Moves, a puzzle platformer that puts you in a world that you can rotate at will. You use this rotation mechanic to navigate a variety of clever situations, from open spaces in which you must fall around objects to tight passages in which you yourself are the puzzle piece. Many of the levels are devious and engaging, but the rotation mechanic is the lone gimmick that supports the action, and it starts to wear thin toward the end of the game. It may be a one-trick pony, but And Yet It Moves has enough cleverness and visual panache to make it worth a ride.
At its core, And Yet It Moves is a simple game. You move your paper character through the level, hitting checkpoints along your way to the end goal. Falling too fast or getting crushed will rip you to pieces, but you'll reassemble quickly back at the last checkpoint, none the worse for wear. You can jump and move left or right. You can rotate the world 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise, or spin it 180 degrees in one go. This meager set of abilities is all you have to work with, but the power of rotation gives you an astonishing freedom of movement. You can move along virtually any trajectory with the right combination of jumping and rotation. No matter which way the world rotates, your feet are always pointed down, so if you're in the air, you're always falling. If you stay aloft too long, you'll reach terminal velocity and rip to shreds when you finally hit the ground. Managing your speed is crucial, and you'll want to get accustomed to landing on sloped surfaces to lessen the impact and decrease the likelihood of death. Regardless of how careful you are, you'll die fairly often. Fortunately, generous checkpoints and almost-instant respawning keep death from slowing you down too much.
Death is just a part of the learning process, and it takes a while to recalibrate your spatial awareness. It's easy to confuse clockwise and counterclockwise when you're falling through space, but once you start to get the hang of it, you'll find yourself doing some pretty cool stuff. One of the early puzzles requires you to go through a passage blocked by a nasty horned toad. To sneak by him, you have to herd a flock of bats near him and force him to retreat. Bats always roost on the ceiling, and you always fall to the floor, but you have to rotate the world so that you and the bats end up in the same area. It's a tricky situation, and figuring it out is satisfying. There are a number of other environmental challenges like this that jibe well with the game's quirky charm, including moving a banana through a maze without bruising it too badly and sneaking past an oversized Venus fly trap.
The real challenge of And Yet It Moves isn't getting by the various creatures you encounter, but rather mastering your own movement. Every level is packed with situations that force you to calculate strange trajectories or fall a long way without gathering too much speed. Sometimes it's clear what you need to do and you just need to execute properly, which is easier said than done. Other times it's not so clear, and you'll do some serious trial and error (read: lots of dying) before you puzzle it out. There's a certain plasticity to these problems, so when you eventually succeed, you may or may not know exactly how you did it. You may feel like you somehow cheaped your way past an obstacle, but more often than not you'll just be delighted to be on your way. This flexibility means that you don't always have to hit upon the one specific solution, which gives the puzzles a forgiving feeling that makes And Yet It Moves very accessible.
The clever gameplay of And Yet It Moves is matched eloquently by its homemade paper-craft aesthetic. Levels look like they were assembled from high-resolution images that were printed out, casually ripped apart, and placed carefully to form the basic level structure. Roots crisscross the soil in the underground sections, and the rainforest areas feature explosively colorful flowers that are incongruously bounded by torn edges. Later levels get significantly wilder as brash textures set the stage for some of the more abstract puzzles. It's a truly unique look that gives the game a lot of visual charm, though the white-paper line-sketch protagonist doesn't bring a lot of character to the table. There is some ambient music that loosely fits the weird vibe, but it's pretty sparse and you'll probably prefer to use your own soundtrack. Muting the sound effects is also recommended. Every time you die, there erupts an abrupt, sibilant "TSOOTCH!" that feels like a brisk reprimand and is likely to grate on your nerves.
There are some really tricky parts, but you'll generally move through the game at a reasonable pace and beat it in a few hours. When you are moving confidently and rotating the world comes naturally, And Yet It Moves is engrossing and satisfying. Progress is your only reward here, given that the game has no narrative elements or sense of purpose. The mute protagonist has a few cute animations, but for the most part you'll rely on the joy of extra-spatial navigation to keep you interested. This joy does lose its luster as the game goes on, but the increasingly exotic level design manages to keep the good times rolling until the end. Those looking to get more out of the game can try for achievements and speed runs, and even if that isn't really your thing, it's worth competing against a top-scoring ghost just to see how people flirt with terminal velocity to pass levels alarmingly fast.
And Yet It Moves is certainly unique, and novelty is one of its main selling points. The clever rotation mechanic is fun to play with and satisfying to master, though you will yearn for a meaningful twist or a new gameplay device before all is said and done. Nevertheless, there's plenty of engaging puzzle action here, and it's all presented in a strange and delightful way. You may end up wishing it was more substantial, but And Yet It Moves has enough style to make it a fun, worthwhile diversion.