If you have ever dreamed of shooting, directing, starring in, and editing your own movie, you need to know about It’s a Wrap!. In this multifaceted puzzle platformer, you juggle multiple media roles to pull off iconic 80s blockbuster hits. Using the different timelines in the editing suite, you dictate when props and practical effects are activated. After shouting “action!”, you take on the role of the famous action star Johnny Rush and have to make sure he makes it to the end of the scene unscathed. By timing the props and practical effects correctly, combined with skilled platforming during the shooting process, the director is satisfied and moves on to the next shot.
Unfortunately, It’s a Wrap! isn’t the puzzle filmmaking sim an aspiring filmmaker might expect. Although a cool premise with a unique gimmick, it severely lacks the freedom to complete levels in your own way. It’s a Wrap! feels more like it was built in reverse, and the only way to complete the level is to slip into the mind of the individual who conceived it. There’s undoubtedly a level of experimentation in It’s a Wrap! because most of the gameplay is an exercise in trial-and-error until you miraculously discover the only solution to the puzzle but a game about the creativity of filmmaking shouldn’t be this restrained. There’s never an opportunity to have an epiphany because if it doesn’t conform to the only solution, you’re left unrewarded. It’s a Wrap! would be a much better game if the puzzles had multiple solutions, and encouraged players to use their creativity to find workarounds.
Instead, It’s a Wrap! is a cryptic puzzler that sits right at home with players who find joy in meticulously deciphering things. If you’re into sudoku or similar brainteasers then you will most likely enjoy the painstaking, repetitive trial-and-error approach that It’s a Wrap! essentially rests its entire body weight on.
During my playthrough, it was far too common that I would come up with a solution and miss the mark by a second. Sometimes maybe a single obstacle was the only thing standing in my way. Because I was so close to solving the puzzle, I would convince myself I was on the right track. However, as you’ve probably already guessed, the actual solution was to start from scratch – and that’s what I found most demanding of It’s a Wrap!: throwing out an entire idea and trying to think of a completely different one, which never filled me with any confidence when I already knew there was only one solution. This is why I think It’s a Wrap! would appeal to people who are already comfortable with this style of puzzle-solving.
Personally, I was expecting It’s a Wrap! to be more self-reflecting on the movie-making idea, possibly encouraging players to add and remove props and practical effects to help the hero succeed. Instead, it is more dedicated to solving desynchronised timelines, where the idea of the film set takes a back seat. In a nutshell, that’s all It’s a Wrap! is; it’s organised chaos you need to reorganise. So although I had fun when I initially started playing, the reality of sliding time discrepancies into their correct order quickly became uninteresting and quite frankly, headache-inducing.
Playing It’s a Wrap! can be a lot of fun when you enter The Matrix and start seeing the code though. The sensation of synergy and the promise of success feel great. This is how a puzzle game should make you feel! However, reaching that point is held down by unassuming shackles of complexity.
If the premise interests you enough, It’s a Wrap! is worth a shot. There’s a free demo you can check out on Nintendo Switch, which I would strongly suggest playing before plunging headfirst into a purchase. However, if you’re looking for something more akin to Katana Zero (both games are essentially about time travel), maybe give this one a miss…