Adventures of Chris is an adventure platformer developed by Guin Entertainment. You play as Chris, a husky middle-schooler who is thrown into being a hero, which nobody believes him to be. This platformer wasn’t what I thought it would be, so I was surprised when I started playing the actual game. Let’s see if it was a pleasant surprise.

The game begins with a decently long tutorial, which also acts as the beginning of the story. Chris is walking home from school when he gets sucked into a vortex transporting him to an unknown place. You take control as the game explains to you how to play. Of course, the game will tell you to jump, and Chris can’t jump high due to his size. You can pull yourself up on ledges, but he doesn’t have the upper body strength to do so due to his size again.

In other words, this shows all the things you could do if Chris were in better shape, which I thought was a weird message to give.

Then the story officially begins when Chris enters the house of a teenage version of Count Dracula, Count Junior. It’s his birthday party, and he invited his friends and other children that he turned into toys for party favors. He turns Chris into a balloon, again, making fun of his size, and Chris accidentally blows away where he’s brought to the Balloon Kingdom.

Now the game officially begins with Chris having to travel the world to find the six kids and save them from being toys for the other villains. Aside from those six places on the map, there were two different areas to receive fire and crystal powers.

Chris uses these powers to fight enemies. His balloon powers allow him to jump higher, and he can also inflate and deflate at will. Although he only has a certain amount of helium, you can go to the shop in the Balloon Kingdom and spend cookies. Cookies are the game’s currency to buy sweets that will increase your helium intake, magic, and overall health. You can also buy shirts that will increase his defense a bit. That’s about it, though.

Adventures of Chris is a short game. Each level lasts only a minute or two. But here’s the catch: everything is a hazard. If Chris is floating like a balloon, you bet there will be spikes lining the ceilings and walls with only a marginal safe spot. Enemies will decrease your HP, but it doesn’t matter how much HP you have if you pop as a balloon. You’re done.

Luckily, retying is quick and easy. You’ll restart at the beginning of the area in that level as if nothing happened. The game expects you to die thousands of times, so it forgives in that sense. What’s not forgiving is the difficulty of the actual gameplay.

There are four different difficulty modes: Chris takes half damage and the other where Chris takes no damage and cannot die. You can change the difficulty whenever you want throughout the game. I’ll admit, I had to do this a couple of times. There were some parts of the level that I just couldn’t get through. For example, in Japan, there are ninja cats that throw shurikens at you. They throw these at rapid-fire, and you have a split second to get out of the way. If you don’t, you’re toast because they throw about six or seven shurikens at a time, and six is the max HP you can buy from the store in the Balloon Kingdom. Not to mention that once they finish throwing stuff at you, they immediately “see” you again and start all over.

The only way to defeat these cats was to use a special sword to deflect the shurikens back at them. But you don’t get this sword until about halfway through the level. So, it was super frustrating.

With all this in mind, you can only imagine what the boss battles are like. The enemies in the levels reflect the area’s boss from shuriken-throwing ninja cat to penguins wielding lasers and bombs or giant mosquitoes that latch onto you and suck your blood.

You need to have absolute precision when going through these levels. The controls were smooth, and I never encountered any glitches or delays, which was great. But the difficulty with the controls felt unbalanced to me. I like a good challenge, but this was too hard. I shouldn’t have had to use the easiest difficulty mode to get through any level for the first time. I should have only had to use it if going back to a particular area to collect something fast.

Yes, there are collectibles here. You can collect flags of the places you visit and lost library books from the Balloon Kingdom library. These seem to do nothing, and the levels are so cramped with enemies that it’s not worth it to go back and collect them all if you missed them the first time going through the level.

There’s also something new to learn at every single level of the game, whether Chris gets a new power-up or a villain curses him with something. Right when you think you got the hang of the previous controls. It was like they had too many ideas, and instead of expanding the game or thinking of a sequel, they threw all their ideas into the pot and stirred it up.

Overall, Adventures of Chris is a lackluster game. The areas are super short, but the gameplay is unforgiving. The frustration quickly overpowers the fun, and there’s too much happening at once. It’s only saving grace was that the controls were smooth.