Hop along there, little froggie… oh. I mean, swim deeper and deeper, little froggie! All the way down to the bottom we go. They Breathe is simply an experience. This is a game that shocked me in more ways than I can count, and the amount of intensity they somehow jam-packed into a 30-minute creepy adventure is both praiseworthy and stunning. If you want to go ahead and read the review, be my guest, but I can already say that you have to play this game.
There is not story in They Breathe. Well, that is what you would think considering how the narrative works for the game, but in its short 30 minutes, the game creates a high level of urgency and challenges you to perform actions you did not even know you were capable of until you figure it out.
This is simply one of those games where you get to figure out what the story means for you and narrate the actions on screen, and it is an incredible, little journey. No two times feel the same either, even though the objective of reaching the bottom is the same, and that makes for something quite interesting.
This is where the game glows with massive brightness. You begin with a single frog jumping into the water, and you are working your way down with seemingly no purpose in sight, except for the one “HINT” that reminds you that pushing the A button will give you a boost.
You see bubbles, so you swim to them. You see something dangerous, so you avoid them. They Breathe does a masterful job of leaving it up to you to figure out everything in this bizarre and creepy world, and what is most entertaining is how each person learns the game differently and reacts to the world in their own way.
As already mentioned, the goal of the game is to reach the bottom. The why? That is up to you to figure out. The how? That is also up to you to learn as you make your way down. All I can tell you without ruining the experience is to remember that boost button.
A super-fun addition to the game is cooperative play, which allows you and another friend to double up frogs and work together to make your way down. Although this is fun in its own way, I highly recommend and even prefer single-player, as it is a much more haunting experience.
Right from the get-go, They Breathe recommends to play the game with headphones, and I cannot agree more. I played a round on the TV through speakers, on handheld with no headphones, and on handheld with headphones. The intensity of the music is uncanny, and the sound effects leave a chill under your skin. The way those things communicate on the speaker are still good enough, but wow. Put on some good headphones and let the journey consume you.
This is truly an amazing audio experience and one that might follow you for days. I… still hear things, and it bothers me.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
The art style and visuals are pretty simple, but they definitely do the trick. It was nice to play a dark game that uses blues and greens regularly instead of browns and greys, and even though these brighter colors are used, it does not take away from the creepiness of the visuals at all.
Everything looks hand drawn, and even the movements of everything on screen has a feeling of strange authenticity that gives the frightfulness of They Breathe more credibility. The way the backgrounds evolve over time too help to create a darker mood that continues to grow all the way to the bottom.
At $3.99 USD, They Breathe is a phenomenally priced adventure. You are getting a unique 30-minute experience that you can either enjoy by yourself or with a friend. The replay value is high, because achieving various objectives is quite difficult and going back to accomplish them is genuinely enjoyable.
This is an indie experience that needs to be played, preferably over and over again. I can honestly tell you that I initially had no desire to play and review this, but once I finally did, I could not stop and now I cannot recommend it enough. It is only $3.99, cheaper than a value meal at McDonald’s, so why not give it a try? I promise you will not regret it.
They Breathe Switch Review provided by SwitchWatch.co.uk
Review also available on OpenCritic
Developer: The Working Parts
Release Date: July 29, 2020
Price: $3.99, £3.59, €3.99
Game Size: 239 MB
Story - 9/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Audio - 9/10
Visuals & Performance - 9/10
Value - 9/10
They Breathe is an excellent indie game that prides itself in leaving it up to you to figure things out and providing a horror-like experience with very little. Although the play time is rather short, the ability to play alone or with a friend heightens desire to replay, and the price is cheap enough to suggest, “Why not?” This is definitely a game worth playing. I highly recommend it.
- Absolutely amazing audio
- Nice hand drawn visuals
- I applaud the horrific tone that is present throughout
- Honestly nothing