You guide a squid through rocky underwater caverns using its tentacle as a grappling hook. You’ll need to avoid bottomless pits, spikes, and evil crabs as you chase fish through each level to the exit.
Wonky physics side-scrolling action
Games based on less-than-reliable physics, such as Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy and Octodad: Dadliest Catch, are a popular genre unto themselves. They implement deliberate dodgy controls to create a fun type of chaos, where you’re fighting against the game itself. Speedrun Squid captures some of this energy in an engaging, if occasionally clumsy, prototype.
Unusual control scheme
Even though squids have six tentacles, Speedrun Squid only uses one. This feature is an initial disappointment but doesn’t stop the leg-as-grappling-hook mechanic from being an entertaining gimmick. Players can latch onto specific rocks, towards which the squid then propels itself. Being underwater, the squid gradually floats downwards, meaning you have to try and time your swings correctly to progress.
Speedrun Squid uses a pixel-art side-on presentation similar to any number of side-scrollers and platformers. The squid is constantly wiggling a couple of legs, and parallax scrolling helps give a sense of movement and depth as you swing or float your way through each level. However, it’s a little difficult to initially gauge which surfaces you can hook onto, and it’s possible to get snagged on the scenery.
Overworld map and world progression
Speedrun Squid features an overworld map that, although linear, suggests a sense of overall progression. Games like Slay the Spire have turned branching maps into a narrative success, so Speedrun Squid could decide to follow suit and enhance player choice.
Needs a polish
Speedrun Squid is listed as a prototype, so some problems can be forgiven. However, it’s possible to find yourself stuck on a level with no way to progress, as there isn’t even a simple ‘float’ button for movement. The game also severely needs anti-aliasing or screen resolution options, as it loads in full-screen but is blurry.