Sunday, April 20, 2014

Michelin Game - Unpossible Review

In the past few years, iOS gaming has been responsible for a number of new video gaming genres. In particular, the endless running category. That has, in turn, spawned off other endless variants like endless flying, endless racing etc.

Recently, there has been a lot of hype and publicity regarding the Flappy Bird game, and despite how I feel about the game itself, it was a phenomenal hit that surpassed everyone's expectations.

In all honesty, Flappy Bird is really a badly designed game. There is very little gameplay, and very little variety. It's just the same thing that repeats itself over and over again.

But the one thing stands out is that it is really hard. That is quite significant as there seems to be a new trend that has come out of the endless running games, and that is the twitch reflex games.

Successful examples of such twitch games include the likes of Pivvot, Super Hexagon and Impossible Road. All these games are really, really difficult. A typical session lasts less than a minute, and most times, you die within seconds.

Yet, a lot of gamers gravitate to these games simply because it's hard and there lies a certain challenge that seems to be both compulsive and addictive.

Unpossible Journey

Acceleroto has just released Unpossible to add to the list of difficult twitch games. It is quite reminiscent of Boost 3D/Boost 2 where the object of the game is to simply fly along an inverted tunnel and avoid getting hit by an obstacle. Once you do, you die and the game is over. Simple.

In order to ease newcomers to the game, the developer has graciously created 3 different modes ranging from Simplicity, Futile to the impossibly difficult Ultra modes. Fret not, for the Simplicity really eases you into the game and lets you appreciate the amazingly smooth framerate of the game really well.

Once you manage to clock 60 seconds, you are given access to the next Futile mode, and unlocking the final mode requires you to also chock up 60 seconds in Futile.

Obstacles Galore

There are about 6 to 8 different types of obstacles, and each type has its own unique design and ways to overcome them. The key is to learn how to anticipate the obstacles as they come and preemptively get prepared for the next set of obstacles before they arrive.

Easier said then done, and while each mode starts out fairly easy, as you progress during a session, the difficulty ramps up as the obstacles gets packed closer and closer and you need to have lightning reflexes to overcome them. And yes, you need a bit of luck as well to survive long and rake up the high scores.

Tron Inspired Look

As for the graphics, there is only one environment and the best way to describe it is that it has that Tron Legacy look about it. Full of neon blue and a semi dark night skyline, there is some light shaders as you maneuver between the objects. But honestly you will be so focused on the action it will be hard to take in all the beauty of the graphics as you race through the game.

The soundtrack is suitably techno and is actually quite cool. Each mode has a different track and as the modes get harder, the music gets more intense and really gets you into the mood. The sound effects are quite minimal save for a few whoosh sounds when you get too close to an object and when you crash, but they do the job well enough.

The requisite leaderboards and achievements are all there, and the game loads pretty fast and runs perfectly on my iPhone 5S and iPad Air. Initially, it seems simple, but you will soon find yourself pretty addicted to the "one more round" gameplay of Unpossible very quickly.

Fun and Challenging

Unlike most other twitch reflex games, I like that Unpossible allows you to ease into the game and learn the mechanics before hitting you with the harder levels. And that is something that puts me off games like Super Hexagon.

The levels themselves are really well designed and you never feel that it is totally impossible (or is that unpossible) to conquer them, and yet with practice, you will soon get better at Unpossible.

Bryan Duke, the one man developer behind Acceleroto and Unpossible is actually a test pilot by day, and has already had a few hits on the App Store, namely Air Hockey and Rush City. Seeing this amount of polish and design really impressed me. And as an indie developer, Acceleroto has been around for half a decade, and that is considerably long.

Impossibly Brilliant

Unpossible represents the best that twitch reflex games can offer today, and then some. The combination of fast paced action and buttery smooth animation makes for a compelling gaming experience in short bursts.

And for a few dollars, it is a much, much better gaming experience than Flappy Bird. Whilst Flappy Bird does not deserve the success it has been gaining, Unpossible is already in the top 10 apps on the US App Store charts, and deservingly so.

Unpossible may not be that wholly original, but as a whole, it is certainly more than the games that inspired it. Bryan himself attributes the influence of Unpossible to playing endless hours of Boost 2, Nuts! and Super Hexagon and I must say, Unpossible surpasses all of these other games.

In fact, as of this writing Unpossible is possibly the best game of 2014 so far. And 2014 has been a vintage year for iOS gaming already, with the likes of Tengami and Monument Valley taking a lot of limelight in the gaming press.

As for my final words on this game, Unpossible is unpossibly brilliant,

US$1.99 - Click here to download.

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