Steam Next Fest: It’s A Wrap Is Half Platformer, Half Movie Maker

Have you ever wanted to direct a movie? No, me neither. But I’ve played out a thousand action sequences in my head whenever I’m staring at some parkour-able rooftops while waiting for a train, or approaching some bends in the road that would be perfect for a police chase while staring out of the bus window. I take a lot of public transport, okay?

It’s A Wrap blends simple platforming with a clever mechanic in which you build the action-packed levels before you clear them. It’s not full Mario Maker, but its Windows Movie Maker-esque UI allows you to time set pieces with precision in order to perfectly plan your character’s route through the chaos. That’s Johnny, by the way, a ‘70s movie star who does all his own stunts, and gets dunked in a lot of lava by the time I’m finished with him.

Each level feels like an homage to classic movies. The Indiana Jones boulder escape is there, as well as a very Terminator-esque robot hunting you down. There’s a mountaintop scene and a volcano in the demo too, to hit those classic video game locales. The gameplay loop is simple: first, you see the script for the level. Then you can move the sliders to time when effects will happen: this boulder falls after two seconds, the lava explodes into a heated fireball after five seconds, you get the picture. You can preview the stunts – a technical rehearsal, if you will – and then you call action.

Switching from director to actor, you help Johnny navigate the level you’ve just directed. The first couple of tries, something will likely be off. Your boulder comes in too soon and flattens Johnny or your leading star falls into a pit of alligators, you know the drill. The platforming is pretty simple (although the volcano level forces you to slow down, which took me seven or eight takes to get the hang of), but it’s the editing that makes It’s A Wrap shine. Realising you’ve timed something slightly off, calling cut, and making those changes is where the serotonin hits. Each level is more of a puzzle to solve than a platforming challenge to conquer.

There’s not too much freedom, but I like that. There tends to be one right answer for each level, which obviously kills replayability, but it makes the puzzling more satisfying. As you go on, more elements are added to complicate things further. Some set pieces can’t be moved, others loop ad infinitum. I’d love to see more of these in the full game, but the demo does enough to whet my appetite and leave me wanting more. It’s also worth noting that the game has controller support and works surprisingly well on Steam Deck, if either of those are your bag.

There are a plethora of movie inspirations that Johnny could explore, and the unique take on building – or, more accurately, timing – each level to perfection is engaging for the puzzleheads among you. At the moment, directing is considerably more fun than acting, so I’d like to see the platforming challenge stepped up a notch in the full game. The final touch of the demo deserves a mention, too: putting your credits as an editable platforming level is a fun twist, and calling action on the closing moment perfectly encapsulates Chanko Studios’ creativity.

The It’s A Wrap demo is live now as a part of Steam Next Fest, and I’d recommend giving it a try if you’re into puzzles, platforming, or going the pictures. The demo will only take you half an hour or so, and I’ll wager it’s different from most platformers you’ve played before.

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