By Eric Pankoke on Sat, 04/21/2012
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat – if you don’t have much patience, don’t play this game. For every level you breeze through (which won’t be many) there are several that will cause you to tear your hair out. Granted you could do just enough to simply pass each level, but if you’re one of those types that like to go for the gold in every game be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time on some of these boards. Okay, that’s it for the disclaimer.
In the iTunes description the developer bills Gravity Maze as a fresh take on physics puzzles, but I’d be more inclined to liken it to a labyrinth style game with multiple objects that you have to get to one or more locations. Instead of a ball you’ll be rolling primarily circular shaped critters around the screen for no apparent reason. The game starts off basic: one type of critter and one exit. You don’t even need to get all of the creatures to that exit.
The first new feature is multiple exits. Each exit will have a symbol representing the creature that needs to get through that exit and a number saying how many creatures still need to pass. The game is based on seasons instead of worlds, and once you get to the second season you’ll have two types of critters, and season three brings a third. Thankfully there are no enemy critters – at leas that I’ve encountered so far. You will have to fight against a time limit and the possibility of accidentally letting a critter go through the wrong exit. Oh, and then there are those pesky saw blades to worry about.
You don’t really move the critters, per say, but you “adjust the world” by tilting the device away from you for up, towards you for down, and left and right for those respective directions. That is unless you are playing the levels with reverse gravity, which so far I thankfully have only encountered one because I can’t pass it. This brings up an annoying problem since you can’t advance to a new level in a season until you beat the current one. You can earn bronze, silver and gold medals for each level based on time to complete and number of critters successfully helped, though sometimes the requirements seem awfully stiff as what feels like an okay run doesn’t even net you a medal. At least you don’t need a medal to move on to the next level.
Whatever frustration builds with some of these crazy levels is easily dissipated by the wonderful atmosphere. The grayscale backgrounds are a perfect compliment to the black silhouettes that compose foreground objects. Despite the tiny nature of much of the graphics there are nice touches like leaves floating across the board and the critters’ eyes popping opening and taking in the scenery as you’re rolling them around. Sometimes it is a bit hard to see the critter symbol for a particular exit since it’s white over the light gray tones, but the only real downside to the imagery is the fact that the lack of color diminishes the use of seasons to differentiate level sets.
The sound effects are very nice, especially when one of the creatures pipes up with a comment like “rollin, rollin, rollin!” I’m still waiting to see one of those chirping birds fly by as well. The music is pretty decent as well, though it’s often almost a bit too subtle for my tastes. When there’s not a lot of action going on I really like to hear the background tunes.
Gravity Maze provides several interesting twists to the “ball in a labyrinth” style of game play. The use of multiple object types to “roll” and multiple exits required for escape make some of the levels quite challenging. You will probably experience frustration at times (I know I did), and some of the levels will take a whole lot of effort to complete with a gold, but it would be very hard to walk away from this not feeling some sort of accomplishment. Of course, it might be a different story if you don’t finish any of the levels. I think the game could use the ability to tweak tilt sensitivity and calibration, but on the whole it’s been quite entertaining.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4G running iOS 5.0.1.