A game based on a single gimmick can remain entertaining for only so long. Spoiler Alert, a 2D platformer from indie developer Megafuzz Games, flips the usual script by running each of its 100 levels filled with patterned enemies and scalable cliffs in reverse. The hand-drawn hero shuffles his feet backward as he un-jumps on enemies, sucks fireballs back into his gullet, and coughs up the coins collected when the level was originally conquered. It's a clever twist on a genre everyone is familiar with, but unfortunately, Spoiler Alert shows off its best and only trick almost immediately, and fails to introduce anything beyond it.
For reasons beyond understanding, you play as a spicy chili pepper who uses his stubby legs to moonwalk all the way to the "start" of the game. Since he has already conquered each level, the character simply walks backward as you control when and where he jumps. You revive crumpled enemies by reenacting well-timed jumps, while power-ups that give you the ability to breathe fire or throw hammers have to be collected and returned to their original positions before a world can be considered complete. The actions in which the character originally collected coins, dealt with enemies, and scaled obstacles must be re-created, giving you little wiggle room from level to level.
The timing of it all can be frustrating early on: anticipating the arc of your jump to land on the lifeless body of a colorful gnome takes a few tries to get right. However, after you catch your groove, you can rush through an entire world packed with 30 unique stages in 10 to 15 minutes. Besting screen after screen of challenges is rewarding, but once you understand the mechanics and see the clear patterns, the one-note design becomes apparent and the flow continues uninterrupted. Spoiler Alert concludes not long after you defeat the first--or technically final--boss. You'd expect 100 levels to lead to hours of action, but since the majority of stages might last fewer than 10 seconds, you can easily see all of the provided content in under an hour's time. There's a certain satisfaction to mastering the game's timing and besting level after level without a hitch, but there's not enough content to back up the design. Spoiler Alert feels less like a full release and more like a paid trial. There's a speed run feature where you're asked to un-play the entire game from finish to start, but after you've un-beaten the game once, it's difficult to find motivation to trudge your way through it all again.
Take away the feature attraction of undoing stage after stage of activities, and you're left with a colorful yet monotonous runner devoid of challenge and inspiration in which the only substantial change between locations is the scenery. If you're unsatisfied with the suite of content provided, there's a level editor included with the Steam-exclusive Collector's Edition that allows you to flex the muscles of your imagination. All of the in-game assets are easily dragged and dropped into your own unique levels, and the simplicity and scope of Spoiler Alert's stages make creating your own reverse runner more straightforward and appealing than the typical suite of such tools.
The accessible creation options notwithstanding, the glitz covering this stunted platformer isn't enough to glamorize its one-note concept. Spoiler Alert fails to remain interesting over the course of its brief runtime, and while I found myself interested in seeing what would be thrown my way early on, a lack of imagination keeps the entire package from feeling complete. A unique concept needs a supporting cast of good ideas to flourish, and Spoiler Alert's lone conceit doesn't have the charms to carry the weight of an entire game on its shoulders.