We’ve recently seen a sharp increase in requests to preview games, and one that caught my eye was the puzzle platformer, Ugly. While the name didn’t pique interest, the cartoon style and its mechanics intrigued me. The demo is short and sweet, but shows promise.

The core concept in Ugly involves a mirror ability. Players control a nobleman dealing with some past trauma and he has gained the power to create a lightning bolt-shaped “mirror” – a line of white light that splits an area in two. No changes are made to the landscape, but a ghost-like doppelganger appears on the other half.

This spirit-clone performs the same actions as the ‘real’ character, but in reverse, but the mirrored twin is not confined to the same limitations as the fleshy version – the spirit can walk through walls, climb without a ladder, and even walk upside down if the mirror is placed below the player. This aids in solving puzzles such as reaching higher platforms, blocked-off rooms, and entering cellars without a door.

Players can swap locations with the mirrored version at anytime, thus gaining access to the closed off areas. This is essential, as the ghost version is unable to open doors or pick up objects, such as keys.

The puzzles in the demo for Ugly are mostly straightforward, but a couple did make me think outside the box, leading me to believe that the mirror offers much promise for interesting puzzle-solving. There is mention of boss battles, but the demo unfortunately ends right as players encounter the first massive, screen-filling villain. I would have liked to get a taste for boss fights, as the demo was all puzzle-solving.

Another positive sign is that the developers have a message on the start-up screen about wanting the game to be accessible. It’s fantastic that they’re thinking about accessibility so early in development, but as of now the options are bare-bones. Hopefully more will be included as Ugly draws closer to release.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Ugly — although it was just a short, 20 minute slice, it shows much potential. Fans of puzzle-platformers will want to keep on eye on this one.


Ugly is being developed by Team Ugly and published by Graffiti Games. A demo is currently available on Steam and the full game is set to be released later in 2023.

Brian Theisen
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