Billing itself as a hardcore platform game, The Legend of Gwen wears its difficulty like a badge of honour.

The thing is, with most hardcore platform games, the enjoyment comes from knowing that you messed up, going back and then trying again. Sure, you might fail, but – and this is absolutely key – you always know when you mess up that it’s your fault.

Perhaps you rushed to get a certain time or took a daft risk to grab an item – what’s important is that it’s never the game that’s at fault when you perish – it’s always you.

The same absolutely cannot be said for The Legend of Gwen, which casts players as a cute witch – with a difficult to follow story – who must collect a certain number of items to open each level’s exit before moving on to the next.

The visuals have a certain charm, though the frame rate is pretty erratic on the Switch – and, considering the precision that you’re asked to jump from platform to platform with, Gwen herself isn’t nearly responsive or agile enough to cope with the slightest mishap.

Also, about that. Most of the game is played from a fixed camera angle, seeing you attempting to jump from land to moving platform and back again, sometimes into or out of the screen.

That would be fine (sounds fairly standard, right?) if it wasn’t for the fact that Gwen doesn’t cast a shadow beneath herself when she jumps.

This, coupled with the fact that it’s nearly impossible to tell where certain platforms appear within the game’s 3D space, makes progression through levels an act of guesswork most of the time. You’ll struggle to see exactly where you have to jump to and if you drop or get hit, it’s back to the start to try again.

As if that wasn’t annoying enough, levels have to be completed in a fairly strict time limit too – and it almost always feels like it’s the game’s fault when you die.

It’s frustrating, annoying and stupid – how on earth the game got this far without at least one person on the team mentioning about the depth perception issue, I’ll never know.

There’s a grid on any floors beneath your feet, but with this disappearing when you’re jumping into the void, it’s rendered mostly pointless. The occasional levels that allow limited control of the camera still have the issue with the lack of 3D awareness, unfortunately, though there’s the odd platform placed in such a way that this can be mitigated.

It pains me to say, because Flynn’s Arcade are usually a pretty dependable indie publisher, that The Legend of Gwen is an absolutely awful game.

It doesn’t even have the benefit of a clear and engaging narrative to keep players motivated to complete the ridiculously designed levels.

Though intentionally designed to be a throwback to the punishing platformers in the early 3D era, it also comes with plenty of design philosophies that should have stayed in the 90s too.


Many thanks to Flynn’s Arcade for providing me with a code for review purposes. The Legend of Gwen is out now on Switch and Steam.

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