STANDBY [official site] is a fast-paced timing-based platformer, combining the difficulty and frustration of Super Meat Boy with the bright, neon style from BARRIER X.
Running, jumping, sliding, dashing and smashing through levels of brightly-coloured backgrounds and yellow blocks is quite liberating when it’s not corrupted by the tediousness of level-failing, and this game has found the sweet spot between being so frustrated you rage quit and wanting to try just one more time. Released a week and a half ago, STANDBY challenges even the best of gamers – me. Every move in this game requires extremely precise timing and instincts to pull off, and should you be even a split-second late, you’ll have to start the level again. You might think “well that sounds awfully forgiving”, but don’t worry, you’ll definitely need to start the levels again. A lot.
You are STANDBY man (I don’t believe he has a name so I’ve given him one), and you need to get to the end of the game – a big round circle. That’s about it, as far as the story goes. What is quite cool though is that there’s so much room for imagination. Maybe he has a lost love that he needs to get to, but he needed to go through this glitchy world to get to her by means of teleportation. Maybe he has been banished from reality and was forced to live the rest of his days in exile, left nowhere else but in the world of faulty technology, trying to escape (which would justify a sequel or more levels). Another possibility is that the developers just didn’t think this through. Either way it doesn’t matter, because where the story lacks, the gameplay redeems.
So as STANDBY man, you’re speeding through these levels like the Flash. Or rather, slowly making your way through them because you keep needing to restart. The fault lies on these inconveniently-placed red lines on the floor, it’s not your fault! Muscle memory plays a key part in the gameplay, and having good muscle memory is a great help. This is why these so-called “real” hobbies, like playing an instrument, are good to have. It’s probably best if you go and master the piano before getting this game.
On a similar note, I’ve found that using a gamepad – more specifically, my Xbox One controller – is much easier than using a keyboard, simply due to the fact that I can be quicker and less clumsy with a controller than with the predetermined key bindings (which I’ve found no way of changing).
The game currently holds 54 levels. Although that seems like a small number – and in all honesty it is – when you’re failing ninety times a level that number can easily take five or six hours to complete. If you happen to be xXSuperSpeedrunnerXx, who can finish an entire speedrun of any game in less than a minute, you might be a little bit disappointed. For the rest of us there is no need to fear, because it’ll definitely take a while.
All of that is well and good, but the truly best part of the game and the part that kept me playing (except for the fact that I wanted to finish all of the levels), was the music. I don’t even know what genre it is, but it’s awesome! It fits the style of the game perfectly and without it, there would be no rhythm. When you hit a deadly red part and die, the music slows down and changes to a lower key. This also happens when you conquer a level and the level time screen shows up, prompting you to resume. Even though the slowing down part is a small feature, I love it.
In addition to the classic adventure STANDBY mode, there is a “Speedrun” mode that you can obtain through playing enough levels, for if you felt the game wasn’t speedrunny enough already. This keeps a track of how much real time you have taken to complete each set of levels, and compares you with the greatest STANDBY players in the universe (because some of them are out of this world! Do you get it?).
One thing I could pick on is the lack of Steam Workshop compatibility. There is only so much that game developers can do themselves, only so many levels one team of minds can think up, but when you open the doors to let the rest of the community help, so much is possible. The Steam Workshop is there, ready to be taken advantage of and it is heartbreaking to see it not used by games that it would be near perfect for. Something along the lines of N++’s or Speedrunners’ level builders would work well.
Almost nothing can go wrong for $8, and STANDBY hasn’t let me down. It’s a great pick if you’re looking for a challenge, something to speedrun or a new game to try out. It’s a tremendous work of muscle memory art.
👍 STANDBY IS worth the US$8 it is available for.