Headlander 1

You Should Play Headlander

If I were to be honest, Headlander is simply comprised of a series of off-colour gags, like the absurdly smooth curves of the futuristic, high-tech space equipment, and that one of the first few cinematic cutscenes is that of a phallic-looking rocket, complete with two accompanying spheres, blasting into space. But thankfully, this retro-futuristic game is more than just the sum of its jokes; it’s also a darn entertaining metroidvania with plenty of gimmicks up its space suit sleeves.

That said, you’re starting the game without these proverbial sleeves; as one of the last humans in this cosmos, you’re also now a single, disembodied head, and can only navigate around with a jet thruster attached to where your neck used to be. 

The whole point of Headlander, then, is to find various robotic hosts to dock on, as you latch your head from one body to the next—even if it’s a robotic dog. At the same time, you’ll also need to gain access to specific areas, which are only accessible to specific bodies, like lower ranking foot soldiers and more well-armed guards with space rifles. All these will stack together in later levels, leading to some creative scenes and invigorating puzzles to solve.

These setups aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but they’re delivered so seamlessly in Headlander that levels are consistently fascinating enough to explore and unravel. Coupled with its camp, retro sci-fi aesthetic and the ridiculously hilarious scenarios that Headlander will toss at you—such as clashing against chess pieces on an intense, chaotic battlefield—this odd metroidvania is just dazzling and humorous enough to revel in its own kitschiness.