Without prior knowledge of this game, it definitely looks like some sort of colorful adventure game aimed at a younger crowd. However, this is merely a cover for the actual content of the game, as behind the cute aesthetic and challenging puzzles lies the most crude game I have ever played.
Challenging puzzles. Spiral Scouts has quite the mix of puzzles. Some are simple, but the majority are rather challenging. In fact, I used pen and paper heavily throughout my playthrough of the game. Many of these puzzles either require the player to decode some sort of sequence, remember a pattern and apply it elsewhere, or solve some sort of math-related problem. Some puzzles even combine these elements together. Although I consider myself to be good at puzzle games, I actually got stumped on a few of the more complex ones. This is definitely not a puzzle game that most players will be able to just easily breeze through.
Great aesthetic. The game’s aesthetic is basically that of Paper Mario’s, but with a lot more color. Environments are vivid, character designs are nicely-done, and the game has this overall carefree atmosphere to it as a result. This aesthetic serves as a nice contrast to the actual content of the game, which is pretty vulgar for the most part.
Nice music. The music in Spiral Scouts gave me some heavy Disney vibes. It was like the kind of music one would expect playing in the background of some sort of Mickey Mouse game (like Castle of Illusion for example). Said music definitely helps in establishing the game’s overall aesthetic and also serves as a contrast to the game’s vulgarity.
Excessively childish humor. Depending on the player, this can either be the game’s biggest selling point or its biggest deterrent. Unfortunately, it was the latter for me. I had expected Toilet humor going into the game, but nowhere near the amount that is actually present, so much so that it actually detracted from the experience. It is the type of humor I would expect from an elementary school cafeteria – a time when kids were just learning what curse words were and would use them in the most obnoxious way. The game does not stop there though and makes it a point to include as much crude and vulgar humor as it possibly can. There is even a character in-game that, when spoken to, complains about the lack of hard drugs and tasks the player with acquiring some heroin so that he can indulge himself (along with the player, of course). There are also a couple instances where characters are outright bullied and it is supposed to be viewed as humorous. That personally does not offend me, but I can see that being a problem for some. At least Huniepop struck a nice balance with its vulgarity, but here they really just dropped the ball.
Dragging objects can be finicky. There is a rather annoying side-effect from the game’s Paper Mario-esque aesthetic: that being that objects cannot easily be grabbed from their left or right sides. This is because every object in the game has really thin edges, requiring the player to find that sweet spot in order to actually grab and drag the object horizontally. This issue could easily be solved by allowing objects to be moved around both vertically and horizontally from just one side, but as it stands, the player must grab from the front or back to move the object vertically and from the sides to move it horizontally.
Some controller annoyances. The game does play well with a controller for the most part, but there are a few issues. The first being that buttons do not appear to be rebindable. In fact, I did not see any keyboard or controller options both in-game and out. The controls are already limited, so this is not as much of a problem as it could be, but the ability to rebind controls is a must-have in any modern game release, especially so because the default keyboard controls here are pretty bad. Another annoyance I noticed was with the game’s shovel. This item can be equipped and unequipped from the player’s inventory, but when it is equipped, the player is no longer able to sprint. This is because the dig button, on an Xbox controller, is bound to B, the same button used for sprint. If I wanted to sprint, I would have to unequip the shovel and equip it again after arriving at my destination. This was rather annoying, especially considering that the majority of the buttons on the controller were not being used and could easily be used in this scenario to allow the player to sprint while having the shovel equipped.
The Spiral Scouts may have some really cool puzzles, a neat aesthetic, and some nice music, but the humor is definitely not for everyone. On top of that, there are a few other technical and design issues with the game, mainly with its complete lack of control settings. I would only recommend this game if you are really into toilet humor, as the game loses most of its appeal if you are not.
You can buy The Spiral Scouts on Steam here.
I was provided a free review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.