Butterscotch Shenanigans’ Steam profile states: “We make humorous, butterysmooth 2D games and inject our souls into each one.” Having played their most recent project, a platformer-maker called Levelhead, I would have to agree with this unique mission statement.
Take a quick read of the Levelhead New Employee Handbook. The handbook provides a rich historical context to the universe that you are about to enter, all the while entertaining you with jokes that range from satirical to downright silly. You don’t need to read the handbook to understand the game, but doing so will give you a taste of what’s to come.
Playing the game’s built-in levels will quickly reveal it to be a stimulating platformer. But Levelhead really shines as soon as you enter the Workshop, which is where you make your own levels. Once your creation is perfected, you can send it over to the Marketing Department, where others can play and rate it. This aspect of the game fosters a community and ensures constant growth and change.
Between the pre-existing levels, the levels that other players are creating, and the ability to construct your own, Levelhead offers much to explore.
Day in the Life
You have just started as a new employee at Bureau of Shipping, a corporation that delivers packages throughout the galaxy. Specifically, you will work in a new department called “The Levelhead Division.” You spend your day training an adorable little robot called the GR-18 in the art of delivering packages.
You’ll get to know the Bureau of Shipping well. It shows up sometimes in between levels, usually to introduce some new element of the game.
The trainings are brief and fun to watch. The BS does not care about anything more than it cares about its bottom line, and it is quite nonchalant about that fact. The voice that delivers the training sounds like an overly-enthusiastic manager. Whoever wrote the presentation filled it with sarcasm and irreverence. The whole thing will speak to anyone who has ever had to suffer through a corporate training.
Train the Adorable Robot
The Bureau of Shipping has its own training course for the GR-18. This part of the game resembles many other platformers. Your GR-18 moves through a map, one level at a time.
Your main controls let you jump, change direction, and grab and throw. A fourth control allows you to disguise the GR-18 robot as a bush and slip by enemies unnoticed. This control’s function can change depending on what you pickup in a level. Sometimes, you’ll walk through walls!
Levelhead also offers a variety of ways it can challenge you. Some levels require puzzle solving, while others will test your ability in timing the perfect dash past a recurrent threat. Other moments will require you to jump and execute some fancy and exact sequential button pushing.
Workshop, Market, Tower!
The way that you train your GR-18 for the big wide galaxy is by creating levels that expose it to any and all possible obstacles. You have spiketrons (spiky balls), springs, space-time rifts, and all kinds of other elements that you can place in its path.
The magic happens in the Workshop. You will be given an exhaustive but quite necessary tutorial when you get there. I also recommend reading the section of the Employee Handbook about level-building. I didn’t do this, and I wish I had. It turns out Butterscotch Shenanigans knows something about making game levels. Who would have thought?
Once you’ve finished up in the Workshop, you can send your levels over to the Marketing Department, where your final product will be judged by a court of your peers. When I say peers, I mean other people playing the game. The Levelhead community begins in Marketing. People play and rate levels, and levels that get enough love go to the Tower, where all the best-ofs are played.
A Level Up for Platformers
Butterscotch Shenanigans has truly outdone itself with Levelhead. Talk about injecting soul into a game!
Creating levels in the Workshop adds a lot to an already strong platformer. The two aspects—level beating and level making—also nurture each other well. After trying to build a level, you’ll find you have a stronger appreciation of levels that you play. Meanwhile, playing those levels will inspire your later creations, which makes for a nice feedback loop. And you’re playing and building as part of a network of people in a unique community of friendly competitors.
I’ll continue playing Levelhead for a while. As for Butterscotch Shenanigans: I’m looking forward to its future projects.
Is it Hardcore?
The existing levels and story in Levelhead are entertaining by themselves. But playing this game really means stepping into the role of creator in a community of creators. Anyone who appreciates platformers will love the opportunity not only to construct their own levels, but also to play and rate other people’s creations in this interactive game.