In the short time since its release, the iPad has quickly become the ideal portable gaming device. One of the easily discernible traits is the iPad's graphic abilities, providing rich, high resolution imagery. Combine this with a compelling puzzle adventure and the outcome is a game like Drawn: The Painted Tower HD.
Created by developer Big Fish Games, Drawn begins with the backstory of Iris, a talented young girl capable of bringing life to paintings. However, Iris is missing, and a destructive curse has damaged the paintings found among each floor of the Painted Tower. Players need to find the clues throughout the tower and place these components into the various image to bring color and life back to them and ultimately find and rescue Iris in the process. Once the missing elements have been assembled in correct order, each of the drab paintings spring to life with vibrant colors and captivating animation that 'draw' the story further along.
The game features over 70 beautiful (and mostly animated) screens, an ambient musical score and puzzles that become more challenging as the game progresses. The artwork is especially captivating, making each screen a showcase to show off the iPad's big screen graphic capabilities. Solving puzzles grants achievements along the way (similar to those found on console games) that can be automatically posted to Apple's Game Center.
While most of the puzzles were relatively straightforward, I did have to occasionally consult the game's built-in hint system which offers a multi-tiered approach to helping players solve puzzles, the first being a gentle nudge in the right direction and the last being the fully disclosed solution. Of course, calling upon these hints does spoil the adventure so its advised that players call upon this system sparingly. And for those who need more handholding, Big Fish Games has posted a complete walkthrough of the game on its website. Gamers familiar with graphic adventures like Myst and Broken Sword will find the puzzles and graphic associations in Drawn to be easier than other computer graphic adventure games, though there are still some particularly challenging associations that need to be made to play the game successfully to its conclusion.
Incidentally, some players have commented on the application's instability and random crashes, but I didn't come across any such issues. Whether these problems are associated with iOS 4 multitasking memory constraint issues or some weird configuration glitch, they did not show up in any of my gaming sessions, some of which lasted an hour or more. Unfortunately, based on the status of the game's support forum at the time of the posting of this review, people who are reporting game stability issues have yet to be responded to by any Big Fish Games customer support representatives. Note to companies with support forums - if you are going to have a support forum on your website, make sure you staff it and respond accordingly. Not doing so makes it seem that strong post-sales relationships with your customers isn't important.
In summary, Drawn: The Painted Tower HD is yet another showcase game that will have players captivated by the detail and colorful imagery that punctuate it. Puzzles are challenging without being maddeningly difficult and the themes in the game will appeal to gamers of all ages. If you prefer a game with big explosions and mad-dash frenetic action, Drawn is not for you. But if you enjoy a game with beautifully rendered graphics that gently moves along at your own pace and challenges you enough to stimulate your thinking cap (but not to the point of overtaxing it), then Drawn: The Painted Tower HD will pull you into an imaginary world that will make you lose track of time in the real world.
Product: Drawn: The Painted Tower HD
Developer: Big Fish Games
Rating: 4/5 stars