Nama Takahashi was a young student when he began working on a simple 2D puzzle-platformer prototype for a game jam-like contest themed around 'flow'. After he had graduated he continued with the game's development in order to see his vision come to life. Fast forward to October 2021 when ElecHead fully released on PC to glowing reception, receiving praise from industry legends such as Derek Yu and Yoko Taro, creative directors for the Spelunky and NieR series respectively.
The game stars Elec, a small robot who conducts electricity from his head. When the world's power shuts off, our cute robot friend must delve through a factory with the mission to bring light back to the world. With electricity running through his body from his head, he's able to activate platforms and currents to progress but after a brief stint in the factory, his head becomes detachable, allowing him to throw it to activate far off pathways. It's a unique ability, making him the only one to solve Earth's problem.
The reason why I love indie games is often due to how creative they can be. The short competitions where the idea for ElecHead came to fruition are commonly referred to as Game Jams in English and when the team (or sometimes individual) is under pressures of time and scope, they're forced to be clever and innovative. That's how the concept of 'flow' can become such a unique puzzle-platformer here, with the simple idea Elec conducting electricity through his head and creating such a creative video game.
As Takahashi continued to work on ElecHead, the puzzles began to flesh themselves out, pushing the boundaries of this unique mechanic. The cleverness of these puzzles often led me nodding my head in admiration.
Arguably the best thing about ElecHead is how it's able to do so much with so little. Coming up with one clever mechanic and expanding on it to create such a unique experience is something that leaves me in awe. As someone without a single coding bone in my body, I've always said that developers are like wizards to me and Takahashi's ElecHead is a prime example. The game is even completely void of dialogue, providing story context with short animations and personality through fun quirks (my favourite being how Elec's head can sometimes return upside down). With other simple titles foregoing plots entirely, they can often feel empty and lack a sense of purpose; ElecHead shows that despite how minimalist your game may be, taking that extra effort to give the player something, anything, can go a long way.
- Wonderfully creative
- Clever puzzles
- A simple and effective approach
- Story context
ElecHead certainly has some pacing issues, especially past the game's halfway point. The game feels quick and snappy to begin with but after a while, puzzles and secrets suddenly become more obtuse, with very minimal amounts of warning or clues.
But even these pacing issues don't take away from the game's fun gameplay and clever puzzles, which is why I was sad to see the ending so soon. If you're good enough, ElecHead can be completed in its entirety within a single hour, but you're likely going to push towards two hours on your first playthrough. It's a bit upsetting as the concept is so unique, I would have loved to have seen more.
- Pacing issues past the halfway point
- Depressingly short
Final Score: 8/10
I adore ElecHead and it's titles like this that made me fall in love with indie games. This game proves that you don't need hyper-realistic graphics or existential crisis-inducing plots to make a game have impact; the phrase "less is more" is what comes to mind. However, I do wish that the game didn't take that word "less" too seriously as ElecHead's short 1-2 hour length is guaranteed to leave the player wanting more. It's not necessarily a bad problem to have and with a few more abilities and ideas, ElecHead 2 seems like a no-brainer, but as it stands, I do feel that this game leaves the player hanging a bit.
Thank you for checking out our ElecHead Switch review, thank you to Asobu for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: