Loris Malek decided to explore unfamiliar territory by founding his own outfit, Moon Spider Studio, following a stint at Eden Games, where he worked on this generation's Alone in the Dark revival. Based out of Miami, Moon Spider has revealed its first project as Harold, a game aimed at "consoles" and PC.
Harold is a free-runner with a twist. Every year, the graduating class at the Guardian Angel Institute of Higher Learning (not an official title) competes in a great race. Humans are randomly picked from all over the globe and assigned to each guardian angel, who must help the human navigate all sorts of mortal perils and get to the finish line.
The only problem: your guardian angel gets stuck with Harold, a lanky, bespectacled goon who's hardly the ideal physical specimen.
Not only is Harold competing against other racers, all of whom are undoubtedly more adept than him, but the course itself is littered with deadly spike bits and chasms. As a guardian angel, it's your job to make sure Harold lives through the obstacle course, and that's no small feat.
You have to dictate Harold's jumps and speed, but also look ahead in the course to control the angle of ramps and move platforms around and smash walls. In the few levels I played, managing it all was a tense, panic-inducing affair, softened by pleasant presentation.
The bright, colorful visuals add an almost whimsical tone to the whole affair. When Harold falls into a pit of spikes or goes flying off the edge of a waterfall, a bright "poof" of smoke saves him from certain doom. It takes some of the edge off the fact that Harold was almost impaled on a giant stick.
Harold, in my brief time, showed a lot of promise, combining a tense puzzle experience with an accessible free-runner. Jumping ahead in the level to interact with objects while Harold runs about makes for an facet in a familiar genre, and choosing when to do so adds a welcome layer of strategy. It's fresh but comfortable at the same time, melding two distinct experiences into what feels like a lighthearted, challenging puzzle-platformer.