Double Fine and Adult Swim’s quirky 2D puzzle platformer, Headlander, has gotten some positive buzz following its release. Headlander is the latest game from Double Fine Productions and their titles have garnered a reputation for their humor and inspired concepts. From the looks of recent reviews, it appears that Headlander is going to continue that streak.
For the initiated, Headlander takes place in a sci fi faux utopia where the last human in the galaxy is a detached head with a rocket engine below its neck. It’s up to them to free the robotic populace from a tyrannical computer. The player achieves this by placing its head on the many different robotic bodies to harness their unique abilities.
Its metacritic score is currently 73 on PC and 75 on PlayStation 4. Not quite as high as the scores for Broken Age or Brutal legend, but a considerable step up from their last space themed game, Spacebase DF-9, with a metacritc score of 49.
The game’s metroidvania style structure was mostly positively received. Publications such as IGN and Gamespot appreciated using the many different bodies to navigate the snarky color-coded doors. However, Game Informer took issue with how the color coded doors took out a little bit of the mystery and puzzle solving usually found in games of this genre. IGN also took issue with the difficulty of preserving the robotic bodies, writing “When you need a green robot, it usually spawns far away from the green door.”
Headlander takes a lot of visual cues from 1970’s science fiction flicks such as Logan’s Run and Zardoz. The critical consensus is pretty positive in that regard. Game Informer says, “Double Fine displays a loving homage to ‘70s sci-fi chic in all its shag-carpeted glory.” Even Destructoid, who couldn’t quite bring themselves to recommend the game, writes “I do appreciate the ’70s sci-fi look; you don’t see much of that in media these days.”
One of the aspects that garnered a more mixed response was the game’s tone. Some felt that the game’s camp was at odds with the more serious moments. PC Gamer writes that “the jokes don’t always sit easily with a story that takes itself surprisingly seriously. If anything, it’s not quite camp enough,” and Destructoid writes that “emotional beats come and go with little to no impact.” Others publications such as IGN felt that the more serious moments helped juxtapose the game’s humor.
From these reviews, it’s easy to see that the critical consensus praises the game’s humor, concept, and visuals, but finds the tone, execution, and mechanics to be a bit lacking. Headlander is currently available on PS4 and PC.