N++ is probably the purest video game I've played since, well, N+. You're a ninja who has to complete an absolute ton of platforming challenge rooms. Every room is a single screen and all you can do is jump, while all you need to do is touch a switch and reach the door. That's it. I'm certainly a fan of the game's no-nonsense gameplay and stripped back appearance, but I don't quite love it.
Your enjoyment of N++ will rest entirely on your appreciation of the platforming. Mr Ninja will perform a shallow jump with a single button press, a higher jump with a prolonged press, can descend slowly while clinging onto a wall or simply leap off it, will die if landing on a flat surface from height but be fine if that surface is sloped. These basic ideas and mechanics must be used in increasingly difficult ways, eventually making you feel like a gamepad ninja (or, more regularly, someone who is terrible at games).
Each level must be completed before time runs out, but you can collect gold in order to extend that (experts will want to finish each level with all gold in the fastest time possible). Mines, missile-launchers, angry robots and more crop up time and time again, attempting to stop you reaching the opened door, and they do a good job. One false move and you're dead, resulting in what feels like near-endless retries on the trickier stages. Leaderboards for each are on hand to encourage competition but outside of that, and the drive to see what's next, your staying power will largely depend on how much you hate yourself.
The issue I have with N++ is that it never got its hooks into me. There are enough levels here to last you months, with more being added by developer Metanet Software and through the in-built level editor, but it all feels a bit like a training mode for a full-on ninja platforming adventure. Like Metal Gear Solid's VR missions, they are good for what they are but I'm left wanting more. That's not a dig at the quality of what's here, with barely a single bad thing to be said about the level designs or slick platforming. It just left me feeling a little indifferent.
Thankfully N++ includes co-op play, which actually forces players to work together in order to complete levels unique to this mode (rather than just plod along together) and race stages where you compete against friends. With every level being presented on a single screen these modes work excellently with couch play (there isn't any online multiplayer) and will soon see plenty of swear words flying around the room. The co-op levels really make you stop and think in order to work out the solution, and while the races are less cerebral they're equally fun.
All this is wrapped up inside an ultra modern minimalist aesthetic (clean lines, solid colours and a stickman character) and surrounded by a substantial electronic soundtrack that suits the style perfectly. Character movement is wonderful and the way your ninja is blown up on impact with a mine or projectile is strangely entertaining. As a package it's all a rather lovely to experience, even if it's not the kind of visual spectacle you bought a PS4 for.
N++ is a finely made game that is fun alone or with friends, but for its wealth of content I found myself wishing for more. Not more of the levels as they're presented, but a game with a sense of progression built on the mechanics I'd attempted to master during what felt like an extended training period. N++ delivers consistently excellent bursts of platforming devilishness, but it's not enough to keep me interested for the long haul.
Version Tested: PS4