Starting with a short but impressive introductory level, the game teaches the player its unique mechanics and deeply engages with its story.
The basic gameplay mechanic in “Ugly” allows you to create a “mirror” horizontally or vertically anywhere in the level. Then, a copy of yourself appears on the other side of the mirror. This copy performs all the same actions as you do. You can swap places with your duplicate, but the duplicate must not be within the outer boundaries of the level or in a dark area. This is sometimes part of the puzzle design. Your duplicate can walk through walls and walk in the air, but initially it cannot interact with physical objects.
The game’s puzzles are well designed and sometimes require you to think outside the box. It’s the kind of game where you can see the solution right away, or you’ll brainstorm and brainstorm over and over again to find a solution. Sometimes the solution is much simpler than you think and you realize it’s right in front of your eyes. These moments are more satisfying than frustrating in “Ugly”.
Another important element of “Ugly” is its aesthetic and story elements. The game is attention to detail and has no dialog, so stories are told through the environment or in short “flashback” segments that the player can discover and trigger during their journey. The story can be irritating at times, but it feels like it contains many meaningful moments. Although I’m early in the game, I’m already invested in learning more about this strange main character and his seemingly traumatic life.
“Ugly” was released last October for PC and consoles and is still relatively new in terms of its transition to mobile platforms. PID Games has done an excellent job with the mobile version. I had no issues with performance and the touch controls work quite well, although I prefer using a physical controller. My only criticism is that the iPhone screen is a little too small to see the game’s details, and when you move to opposite sides of the level with your copy, the stage looks really small as the camera expands and tries to keep everything in frame.
Despite these minor criticisms, the mobile version seems to be just as good as the critically acclaimed version of “Ugly” on other platforms. In the gaming world, we often see games that are artistically excellent but lack gameplay, or games that have excellent mechanics but lack a meaningful story or soul. “Ugly” is one of those rare games that manages to strike the perfect balance of gameplay and story, and this new mobile version costs a fraction of what it costs on other platforms.