Games can be hard, they can be easy or they can be a comfortable challenge. There’s not much else to it in terms of difficulty unless things get crazy and you hit the rage quitting stage. Droidscape Basilica, the most recent release from Kyttaro Games, most certainly falls into the first category. An intriguing concoction of puzzle solving in a unique universe with some seriously obscure elements, Droidscape had me gritting my teeth just about as much as it had me scratching my head.
At its core, Droidscape is a puzzle solving game. The aim is to clear the level by maneuvering your droid (Bishop) through the floor, dodging eccentric-looking robots and other perils along the quickest route possible. You first map out a route for your droid to follow by drawing it using the iPhone’s touchscreen, and then you get Bishop to follow it to the exit as quickly as possible. You can control the speed Bishop runs using a simple slider, which is key when trying to avoid the bad guys whilst finishing in a respectable time. Gems are scattered across the levels too and offer bonuses when collected but make finishing in good time predictably harder. Although interesting in the way it works, the overall experience when playing Droidscape is rather hindered by the difficulty of gameplay and the “thrown in the deep end” nature it treats you with.
Droidscape features a wealth of 60 levels and already has more under development but to be honest if you can max the available stages you deserve some sort of award. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded depending on the length of your route, the speed at which you finished and the amount of gems you collected on your travels meaning the perfectionist and completionist gamers out there are going to have a serious amount of work to do with Droidscape.
The menu screens of Droidscape suit the nature of the game, navigation works well and things are easy to find thanks to simple organization. The title cut scene is where things seemingly unravel however. The opening cinematic is the key moment where players are welcomed to this odd universe and brought up to speed with what they’ll be doing when they play the game, unfortunately for me it kept freezing so I had to watch it on YouTube to know why I was a robot running around collecting gems. This wasn’t an isolated incident as even after uninstalling the title sequence still skipped at the same section every time. In-game tools however, are well spaced out and organized strategically around the screen so the overall difficulty of Droidscape cannot be blamed on the atmospheric presentation.
One of the more redeeming features of Droidscape Basilica is it’s rather apt soundtrack. The game offers some early advice when you reach the title screen in the form of “best with headphones” and it wasn’t joking for a number of reasons. Firstly the soundtrack is some drum’n’bass merged with dubstep, a perfect fit for a science fiction universe and suits the environments of the game really well. The beats aren’t even half bad and melt into ambience without ever being particularly irritating, headphones just add to the depth of the experience. Headphones also stops other people hearing the ridiculous yelp Bishop makes when you’ll inevitably die, it has to be heard to be believed.
Graphics and Stability
Whilst not up there with some of the more heavy duty iOS games in the visual department, Droidscape delivers an interesting feast for the eyes thanks to the stop motion effects of the animation and uses color well to distinguish objectives and enemies. Droidscape Basilica has evidently focused on bringing a visually unique game rather than a graphically advanced game, the animation method really suits the gameplay, the hard work really shows and I honestly can’t imagine it working as well any other way.
Unlike many of the iOS games I tinker about with, Droidscape Basilica (touch wood!) is yet to crash or stutter during gameplay. This can be said for game time both in Wi-Fi/3G and in No Service areas (something that I’ve noticed makes a difference in past iOS reviews), which is a seriously commendable trait. Even some of the more heavy hitter titles suffered with lag or the occasional crash so it was incredibly refreshing to be able to simply focus on getting my little droid to safety rather than worry about going through a tunnel and having the app crash.
It’s a bold move to bring something with rather unique mechanics to the iOS gaming world, even more bold to bring a difficult AND unique game but I sincerely believe Droidscape Basilica has its own little niche that it commands with impressive creativity and intuitive gaming. Tiny little blips such as the hilarious ‘death sound’ of Bishop and the cut scene glitch are all easily ironed out in later updates but none really detract enough to brand this as anything but a brilliant oddity of a game. If you enjoy solving puzzles, playing with sensitive robots, getting angry at your phone and medal hunting then I suggest you head to the app store with $1.99 at the ready.
Review copy supplied by Kyttaro Games, all information correct as of 14/8/13 regarding prices and availability. Droidscape Basilica was reviewed on an iPhone 4 running iOS 6.1.3
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