“Edge” for the iDevice

edge

Without hesitation, I have to say that Mobigames’ “Edge” (iTunes link) is my favourite iPod/iPhone game yet. It: looks great, with a very minimalist aesthetic; sounds terrific[1]; has lots of original music; has good controls; is altogether well designed; has a novel mechanic and is perfectly suited to the device it’s on.

When I first heard of the game I thought it was one of those spatial puzzles, like new PSN game Cuboid, that’s been done many times over since the 80s. Turns out that, though it has some of those spatial elements, it’s really more of an isometric platformer like Snake Rattle ‘n Roll or, more obviously, Marble Madness, but without any of the imposed challenge that enemies (haven’t encountered any so far) or time-limits add.

It’s a forgiving game, with many (invisible) checkpoints and without any limited attempts. This is perfect for a mobile game on a platform with a still unfamiliar interface and it makes it instantly accessible. That’s not to say that there isn’t any challenge at all, parts of it can get tricky, but a lot of it is left as an optional aside for the user: collecting all the little cubes in a level, getting record speed runs, not falling off, and maximizing your rating. So while casually flipping through a level might be fun and (mostly) stress-free, trying to do so in the fastest time possible without error will frustrate you. But, like I said, that’s only there if you want it to be. Clearly, judging by the few things visible in my prototype yesterday, this is a design decision that hits all the right nerves with me.

There’s also a tricky balancing act that can be done with the cube when it’s precariously dangling from an edge. The longer it’s maintained — and it is skillful because it requires precise input — the more time bonuses are netted. Again, it’s an optional (as far as I’ve seen so far) aside but it adds a great deal to the game’s overall depth. Now that I’ve played it more I can see that it becomes a necessary mechanic in the second half of the game. It doesn’t change anything I’ve said since it can be used, optionally, in other places to access shortcuts and improve your time. It just means the game is a bit trickier than first impressions led to believe. Especially that one fucking part in level 20.

The music in Edge is surprisingly good too, but unlike some other games (SimCity) it doesn’t force it on you. “Edge” never forgets that the device it’s on was a music player before it became a game player: right after the initial boot, you are given the option of in-game sound or whatever tune you’re listening to at the moment. It’s a little thing, but it shows consideration for the user and the platform. I wish some of the “bigger” games (SimCity) treated it as fairly.

It’s the best five bucks I spent in the App Store yet.

  1. There are six individuals named in the credits; four of them are listed under “sound design.” It shows through.
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