Man versus housefly. For centuries mankind has been haunted by these food tainting, dive bombing, skin tickling pests. At its core, Membrane is a game about this rivalry. When a fly lands on your arm the game springs to life with a neuron-esque avatar navigating level after level to connect all the necessary nodes to give that fly a good, old-fashioned slap. If you’re a fan of creative puzzle games where levels offer multiple ways to win and don’t mind a bit of home-brewed retro graphics, Membrane may be the Nintendo Switch game for you. Read on for our review.
While I’m positive that the human nervous system isn’t operated by a pixel avatar with a triangle head navigating puzzles to perform actions, two-person studio Perfect Hat has created an original video game premise that rewards creativity and critical thinking. What originally began as a thesis project for one of the developer’s graduation, Membrane evolved into a full, simple yet rich Nintendo Switch experience. The game features 45 levels that simulate the path your little neuron avatar must navigate to go from the brain of our unsung hero to his arm (and consequently the impending doom of our fly) and each level has multiple solutions.
The first few levels are relatively easy, offering a slow introduction to the game mechanics. Your triangle-headed neuron, you’ll discover, can point multiple directions that you’ll shoot tiny little blocks to reach the two glowing orbs you want to snag in each level. These little blocks can create everything from a bridge to a catapult in some cases and are subject to the game’s gravity – meaning you may not be safe from the weird pink lava once you apply your avatars weight to the newly created surface. These blocks are limited by a small square indicator at the bottom of your screen and can be recollected by utilizing the ‘X’ key, firing a little bullet of sorts that destroys the blocks and returns them to your limited stash.
Speaking of the orbs, there are two per level but you really only need to collect one to advance. That being said you really should go for the second because you’ll eventually be rewarded with three bonus modes to play: Catapult, Trickshot, and Boulderball. The easy introduction quickly gives way to hard levels as you leave the safety of our hero’s brain where you’ll begin to see various hazards including our aforementioned pink lava, green boulders you have to use to smash through walls, enemies holding the orbs, rotating spheres you have to utilize with your blocks and more. The result is a game full of levels that reward curious experimentation and definitely do not pigeon-hole the player into single lock and key type solutions.
All said and done, Membrane is a delightful title for the Nintendo Switch that offers hours of fun solving increasingly complex puzzles. Try not to let the graphics fool you into thinking this game is in any way sub-par; The animations are smooth, the controls are precise and the physics engine is well fleshed out. This game is a wonderful “blast from the past that really isn’t” and makes a great addition to any Switch’s game library.
Final Membrane Review Score: 8/10
- Multiple ways to solve each level
- Wonderful animations, controls, and physics engine
- 8-bit MS Paint style graphics may be a turn-off for some
- Some puzzles can be overly frustrating