Developer: Poorwill Games
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

In an age where iOS games have become over-produced and visually polished to a level that would make early entrants to the App Store look like glorified finger paintings, it is nice to see that there are small teams that can still release games that are unrefined labors of love. So is the case with Poorwill Games freshman release, 500 Years Act 1. It may not be the most perfect game on the platform, but there is nothing wrong with gleaning enjoyment from a title that is more than just a little rough around the edges.

image_5Space operas have long been a staple of the science fiction genre. The intrigue and adventure of exploring the great unknown have been fodder for storytellers for as long as man has been looking skyward. So it should come as no surprise that 500 Years Act 1 continues in the long tradition. A hybrid of action-oriented space combat and dialog tree based exploration, the game hopes to create a new galaxy for the player to explore: a reality where humankind is desperately trying to pick of the pieces, half a millennia after Earth’s decimation.

Most of the game’s story it told through a series of menu-based conversation trees. The player is trying to regroup enough of humanity to repair their ship and expand outward into the galaxy. Along the way, players come in contact with an eclectic group of characters that either want to befriend the wayward group of travelers or turn them into their next meal.

image_10Once things get serious, the menus are tossed aside in favor of a makeshift battle arena where challengers take turns trying to blow the player’s vessel out of the sky. Though the Geometry Wars-inspired control scheme attempts to make the combat accessible, this is where the lackluster presentation and genuine lack of polish starts to derail the action. The simplistic art design makes it very difficult to discern what is happening from moment-to-moment, resulting in a confusing blob of sprites playing glorified rendition of bumper cars with lasers. This tends to leave a player’s victory constantly in question.

Bouncing around between galaxies and meeting the locals is where 500 Years Act 1 thrives. The storytelling is lighthearted and fun, while still carrying the same gravitas that would be expected from an interstellar space opera. Sadly the combat does more to hurt the title than help it. This is a fun adventure in the beginning, but as soon as combat becomes more prevalent most will just end up abandoning ship.

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