Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
With its low-key presentation and gentle, calming music, Astro Shark at first seems like some kind of experimental art game. However, while the game is certainly artistic, its gameplay is tight and challenging in a decidedly old-school way. It’s the way in which these seemingly contradictory styles fuse together that gives the game its charm.
When Laika the Russian space dog gets abducted, it’s up to the Astro Shark to save her. Why? They are in love of course. As weird and nonsensical as the premise sounds, the dark, moody, gorgeous hand-illustrated visuals and serene, spacey, aquatic music make the game feel like a sweet bedtime story. It’s almost like The Iron Giant. Even when things get tough, and they will, the game’s ethereal quality keeps it from ever becoming truly threatening. It’s all just good fun.
Peaceful aesthetics aside though, Astro Shark’s gameplay will certainly keep players alert. Each level has a goal to be reached and to get there players must fling Astro Shark across the map using planets’ gravitational fields. Astro Shark is always moving forward but by tapping a planet Astro Shark will start orbiting it allowing him to change directions. However, each planet has a limited lifespan so hopping from planet to planet is pretty much required. Additionally, later stages feature missiles that home in on Astro Shark and are faster than him. The only way to avoid them is to skillfully weave in and out of planets causing missiles to crash into various obstacles like ice blocks or each other. It can get pretty frantic and the steep difficulty curve helps make up for the relatively small amount of levels. However, once everything clicks the game is smooth to play and beautiful to look at.
Astro Shark is a dreamlike game. After all, only in dreams could a shark fall in love with a dog.