Airhead review a head in a glass case

Airhead review – body and soul one will burn

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure of what I would find myself in front of once I launched Airhead. Developed by debuting team Octato and published by HandyGames, Airhead joins a market that is now filled – or maybe I should say saturated – with platformers and games featuring Metroidvania mechanics, while we are also waiting for Hollow Knight sequel, Silksong. My confusion grew even larger when I looked at how complex the world of Airhead seemed to be. So, let’s dive in and look at what the developers would like to tell us with their first game.


We start the game in a world in turmoil, as we guide Head and Body, the main characters of the adventure, trying to understand how to survive while picking up the pieces. The once lush and beautiful planet has dried up, due to a post-apocalyptic event that has disintegrated life on the surface. And thus we come to the juxtaposition of two characters and two worlds, as well.

One is the world outside, now completely unrecognisable, and that made me think of Jusant. And then there is the dark world, made up of impassable walls, holes in which creatures still live while others die, deprived of the light and beauty of the world which, until some time ago, was tangible and common like ours. It is a sensible and brilliant criticism of global warming: the team was able, with talent and clarity, to effectively describe these cross-sections of this world, gathering the best from past works and creating a unique and satisfying context.


Narratively, Airhead follows a classic “show, don’t tell” narrative, typical of many US and British novels. It is a style featured also in other classics, think for example Dark Souls, to describe a world and its place in the story without having to explain everything in detail. Airhead also focuses, in this sense, on meta narrative architectures. Body is a character who travels far and wide without knowing where he is going and why he finds himself in that world, even if he is now used to living in close contact with darkness and creatures.

One day, however, he meets Head, a protagonist he bonds with the aim of saving her from dying. Together, in fact, they undertake a journey to prevent Head, deprived of his body, from completely depleting her oxygen. Here we find another strong environmental message: our planet has its lungs in places like the Amazon which, if destroyed and threatened, will doom us to a slow and horrible death.

In Airhead, this criticism is shown directly and with a careful and peculiar study that analyses the feelings of both Head and Body, creatures that once, perhaps, were warmed by the Sun which is now, however, a threat to the entire existence. The story, therefore, focuses on the journey of these two cute and iconic protagonists. There are intricate roads, complex paths and many puzzles, supported by a game design that is as simple as it is excellently implemented. The sad story of Airhead, in short, is touching. It is heartbreaking to see Body’s commitment and Head’s confusion in this world, long since deprived of its beauty and now, unfortunately, full of danger and peril.


As mentioned, Airhead is a platformer with Metroidvania elements in which there are no enemies, but a generous number of puzzles to overcome. As in everyday life, both Head and Body will have to collaborate to allow the player to overcome obstacles and solve puzzles.  As they explore the interconnected world designed by Octato, the two protagonists navigate the intricate level design while helping each other. If Body is more agile, it is also forced to carry Head from one side to the other, while the latter can lead the friend along otherwise impassable paths, using elevators or increasing its mass to break down an obstacle and allowing them to advance.

Physics is fundamental in the game: Oppenheimer’s most basic laws of matter are used for even the simplest situation, while trying to figure out how to tackle a puzzle. It is the air, in fact, that is the real protagonist of the game design of the work. I admit that, for some time, I was stuck on a puzzle trying to understand how to solve it. It is fundamental that one always remember to look around, in order to understand how to proceed.

On multiple occasions, even just to advance, Body is forced to leave Head behind and then recover it at a later time, and this is where the going gets tough and there is an interesting degree of challenge, implemented with intelligence. Head, due to holes in his skin, can lose air and ultimately die. This is why there are oxygen tanks that also act as life anchors, to which it is possible to return when a puzzle is not immediately understood.

Their presence, in addition to greatly facilitating the continuation of the adventure, is pleasantly enriching: it is satisfying to take a breath and then start again, but it is also fun to shape Head’s skills with upgrades around the vast game map. Some upgrades allow the two protagonists to perform a classic double jump or to illuminate completely dark areas, or to activate will-o-the-wisps, which can be useful for commanding creatures. Head’s abilities are many, and they all have a purpose: each one is essentially based on air, which is the colorless and gaseous matter chosen for the puzzle solving design.


What shines, in addition to the game design and the narrative context, is the artistic direction of Airhead. There are ancient and rural structures waiting to be discovered, as well as expertly hand-drawn rivers and lakes. The video game offers remarkable and impactful scenarios and locations, accompanied by noteworthy sound design and musical compositions.

It is a video game that shines with its own light, as well as a remarkable debut for such a small team and its first experience in the gaming scene. The studio has long placed atmosphere and game design at the basis of its philosophy. With Airhead, they exceeded any possible expectations, presenting an immediate video game that just begs to be discovered and explored.

Our Airhead review was made possible with a key provided by the publisher, HandyGames. Airhead is available on Steam, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X|S.

Airhead: Airhead is a pleasant and immediate video game, with a profound artistic direction, beautiful content and a precise game design that goes straight to the goal. The platforming part is not the real essence of the work, but rather the puzzles and Head's abilities are. Furthermore, the pairing between the two characters is definitely a great addition and might even bring you to tears. A truly passionate work . Nicholas Mercurio

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Nicholas Mercurio

What happens if you combine literature, an irrepressible curiosity and a lethal mix of independent video games and complex productions? You will get Nicholas, a nice little boy who writes a lot and wants to write even more. Called "Puji" well before he was born, you have to give him a pen to keep him silent. Or at least, a gamepad.