This is Backlog Roulette, a series in which I randomly pick an unplayed game from my backlog and play it. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Last time on Backlog Roulette, I debated how to handle my “regular” backlog of games, which I have organized in a terrifying spreadsheet, versus the massive bundles I’ve acquired in recent years. My Scratching That Itch series is handling games from the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, but I have several more bundles from that are nearly as gigantic. If I focus solely on my spreadsheet games for Backlog Roulette, I run the risk of never checking out these other bundles at all. But including them risks turning this series into something too similar to Scratching That Itch. My last Backlog Roulette entry, about Tomato Clinic from the Indie Bundle for Palestinian Aid, sure felt a lot like a Scratching That Itch post, but the original intention of the Backlog Roulette series was to highlight games I’d acquired with a bit more intention. Interesting indies I’d picked up but then never got around to playing, or selections from much smaller, more curated bundles. These also tend to be games I’ve owned for longer, since the giant bundles only appeared in recent years.

So, this time I went for an 80% spreadsheet, 20% bundle weighting before picking the next random game. I also quickly decided that if I wasn’t enjoying the pick, I’d discard it in favor of another one. It took mere minutes to realize that the open-ended slasher film puzzle boxes of Lakeview Cabin Collection (acquired in a Humble Bundle) were not for me. Similarly, the gamified police raids of Door Kickers (also from a Humble Bundle) failed to entice. That’s OK; those are two games I can cross off of my spreadsheet. The third random pick was She Remembered Caterpillars by jumpsuit entertainment UG, a very pretty puzzle game I remember reading about. It’s not from a Humble Bundle, but I’m not sure when I got it. It’s just in my Steam library.

She Remembered Caterpillars is a series of 40 single-screen puzzles, each painstakingly drawn in beautiful 2D art. These are composed of crisscrossing paths, connected with caterpillar bridges and other puzzle elements. The goal of every puzzle is to guide several little humanoid creatures to some lily-pad-esque platforms, but this is complicated by the fact that the creatures come in different colors (and shapes, for those suffering from color blindness). Caterpillars are colored too, and only creatures of the same color may cross them. Similarly, there are gates that block a specific color creature but let others pass. This seems simple enough, but soon players are able to combine two creatures together to make a hybrid creature of a new color, with its own behavior. For example, combining red and blue creates a purple creature, which can cross red and blue caterpillars. So players could create a purple creature in order to get a red creature across a blue caterpillar. But if there’s a red gate, which blocks red creatures, it will also block the purple hybrid.

The puzzles reminded me of tangles of logic gates, but I was impressed with just how tough they can get. Getting a specific creature where it needs to go can involve running multiple laps around the screen, combining creatures to ferry them over caterpillars before splitting them up again to create new hybrids, which in turn carry different creatures all over the place. It may take the combined efforts of every single creature in the puzzle, running back and forth over different routes, just to get one of them into position for the solution. Often, I stared at the screen, certain there was no paths open to me. Sometimes I had a flash of inspiration, or simply tried something at random that led me to the correct path, but more often I had to look up the solution online. This gets especially bad late in the game, when players are able to change the colors of creatures for some extremely convoluted solutions. Of the last ten puzzles, I think I solved maybe two or three on my own, looking up the rest.

There’s a loose story that’s told with short text snippets at the start of each puzzle, and initially that’s what kept me motivated to continue even though I was getting stuck often. But I soon discovered that the story bears little relation to the puzzles themselves. There’s a mention of caterpillars, and some vague hints that the puzzles might actually be about connecting neurons together in someone’s mind. But really the story is just a rumination on loss and letting go, which never felt like a good match for the mental twists I was making to parse convoluted paths through the puzzles. Instead, the draw for me remained the beautiful art. Every puzzle is gorgeous, and they’re organized into sets of five with the same visual theme. Early ones are naturalistic, swampy forests or windswept desert cliffs. But later things get more surreal, as massive stone hands cradle the puzzle area, or bits of machinery protrude from gnarled vines or tree limbs. The creatures are wonderfully animated too, leaping up from slumber when selected, and running around with adorable little padding feet when directed to move somewhere. The sound is excellent all around, in fact, with a original ambient score that sets the pensive mood perfectly.

But I wanted to like She Remembered Caterpillars more than I did. The puzzles simply weren’t that satisfying to unpick, leaving me relieved rather than elated when I solved one. Players who enjoy using logic to deduce twisting paths through a set of obstacles may have more fun, but I found myself hoping for something more engaging to accompany this beautiful creation, something that meshed better with its bits of narrative. I’m still glad I got to see, hear, and read it all though, even if I had to look up more solutions than I would have liked. If you are intrigued, She Remembered Caterpillars is available on Steam and Switch.