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Garlic is a Precision Platformer Full of Meme Culture

Fans of Celeste will love the fast-paced platforming and clever level design in Garlic, as long as they can get past its weird sense of humor.

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Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.

I hadn’t heard of Garlic when I first saw the main character's giant, grotesque face, and figured it was some shovelware that put cringe humor over any kind of interesting gameplay. I passed by it a few times before I realized that it was actually a fast precision platformer and decided to give it a look, and now I’m utterly hooked on it.

Almost One-Hit KO

Garlic makes it very clear when you've been hurt.

Garlic is a Celeste-like. It’s a platformer that gives players a jump and single air dash that you use to navigate through levels full of enemies and lots and lots of traps. There is a pretty good variety of enemies and obstacles, but for the most part, you are aiming to avoid them more than interact with them.

Moving sawblades are a constant, and hitting them just once can knock you right out. I say “can”, because this game uses an almost one-hit KO design. Most traps and enemies are lethal, but if you only the very outer edge of a sawblade you’ll get knock backed with a grievous injury (like a removed limb), and surviving for a few seconds lets you recover and continue.

It’s a neat idea, but I kind of wish the game didn’t have this “last chance” mechanic. The distance you have to travel between checkpoints is a bit longer than it is in Celeste, but never so far that death is super aggravating. On the other hand, because I never expect the injury state to happen, it almost leads me to fumbling around and dying anyway.

Death and Dying

Dying in garlic often means an explosion of pixelated gore.

When you do die in Garlic, it is invariably accompanied by a horribly detailed animation of your character's death. Whether you run fast first into an enemy, fall onto spikes, or get a leg amputated by a buzzsaw and then promptly jump directly onto the same buzzsaw, you’ll be rewarded with a grotesque moment of demise.

The game is silly, and it’s in large part that silly tone that makes the last chance mechanic work. Sure, it almost always leads to me dying, but because I die from not expecting to be alive, those deaths end up extra funny.

Jokes That Work

"you are garlic the onion-headed silent fighter"

Comedy in video games ranges from hard to completely impossible, but Garlic manages to pull it off. The core gameplay is incredibly solid and some of the enemy designs are so bizarre that just looking at them makes me smile. On top of that, the game is filled with weird jokes between the core gameplay.

In garlic, your goal is to get to the cyber goddess.

In Garlic, you play as an onion. Boom, joke. I guess? But also, your goal as said onion is to climb to the top of a tower, collecting coins along the way which you use at arcade cabinets spread throughout the world in order to earn high scores in order to woo “the cyber goddess”.

Everything about this game is absurd and dumb. The weird interstitial mini-games are always simple but offer a fun shift in gameplay. I feel like I should cringe when my character makes angry meme faces when I fail to kick a ninja in a rudimentary arcade brawler, but instead, it all just delights me.

Final Thoughts

Garlic has weird arcade cabinets scattered throughout the world... For some reason.

I haven’t finished Garlic because it’s actually pretty challenging, even with its generous checkpointing. However, I’ve seen enough to comfortably recommend this to fans of stupid humor, twitchy platforming, and classic pixel art.

If nothing has sold you yet, let me share one more thing. I knew this game was special when I found myself riding a squid through a lighting storm shooting down flying goateed goats with a mounted machine gun.

Geek to Geek Rating: 4 out of 5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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