Developer: Doppler Interactive
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.4
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Wouldn’t it be nice if it were possible to wrap up, into a ball, all of one’s worries and tribulations before casting it aside effortlessly? That’s kind of what Ball of Woe offers, although, instead of it being the player’s worries, it’s the citizens of Nicetown who should lose their troubles.

For the player, Ball of Woe is a ball rolling game of tricky proportions but it’s also more than that. Impressively, there’s a story within this randomly generated and distinctly simple concept. The idea is that the player’s finger is God, and it’s down to them to steer the Ball of Woe away from the people. Along the way, it’s possible to liberate such people by touching them with the ball, thereby unlocking a brief line of text and gaining more points.

It’s an interesting idea and it’s implemented quite well. The idea of rolling a ball around conjures up the assumption of tilt based controls but Ball of Woe relies upon taps of the finger. These taps place sticks which direct the Ball around the arena. Such arenas are randomly generated and can offer various obstacles and holes that must be carefully negotiated. It’s the kind of gameplay that takes a few attempts to click but it’s quite satisfying then. Plus there’s the fun of seeing the landscape already traversed, improve by changing to a more attractive color.

What’s not so appealing is the constant allure of in-app purchases. Ball of Woe is a free download but I’d have preferred to pay $0.99 for a version that didn’t came with an extra or two. It’s possible to buy extra lives, to return to the same position as before a fall, as well as upgrades to the ball and sticks. It’s not exactly hugely pushy but there’s no way of setting a default ball, so players have to browse through the entire selection before each game. Similarly, there’s some long dialogue to work one’s way through before each new game, with no skip button in sight.

It’s presentational aspects like this that let Ball of Woe down slightly. They detract from the interesting if very quirky storyline. However, there’s little else out there quite like Ball of Woe, both in terms of its plot and its lack of tilt controls. That’s something that should be cherished, warts and all.

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