Developer: Dogbyte Games
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Blocky Roads could have very easily been a cheap game. Take the voxel look of Minecraft and much of its theme (and even building elements), then stick it into another genre and watch the money come pouring in, right? Well, thankfully Dogbyte Games has put a lot more effort into Blocky Roads to make it something that has an obvious inspiration, but doesn’t feel like a cheap knock-off.

BlockyRoads-8This is a level-based, physics-focused, side-scrolling racing game; a real multi-hyphenate. Players are mostly just trying to get from point A to point B in one piece with their vehicle, which they can upgrade by using coins. Getting through the levels and collecting the treasure chests containing story items and other goodies requires navigating some bumpy roads, tricky jumps, and just trying to stay upright! It’s a lot stiffer than, say, MotoHeroz or Snuggle Truck, which gives it its own feel in a familiar genre. It’s also really hard, too – the levels require care to be taken!

The graphics are great. While the game looks like Minecraft and its million derivatives, the bloom lighting applied to everything gives it a flashy look. The low-res textures are mostly distant, so the game just looks like a hyper-detailed voxel-filled game. It’s super-smooth in motion, too.

There’s also just enough of a customization element with the custom vehicles. While each vehicle has their own separate upgrade trees, coins can be easily earned (and not bought at all – the only IAP is to unlock all pre-made vehicles instantly) so vehicles can be quickly made to be good. But it’s surprisingly easy to add and remove bricks in 3D space, and even make flashing-colored blocks. Want a gaudy, seizure-inducing ride to do flips in the air with? Blocky Roads makes it simple. And the fact that the game isn’t tuned to be IAP-heavy is shockingly refreshing. It’s just all part of a really cool package.

BlockyRoads-5My chief complaint with the control scheme is that the mid-air controls are completely backwards. On the ground, holding on the right side of the screen to go forward and on the left to brake makes sense. In the air, holding on the right side to flip counter-clockwise and on the left to flip counter-clockwise? It makes some sense after a while, but it never feels quite right, and given how the levels can be extremely challenging, that barrier just does not help.

But really, that’s the one flaw in this game. What could have been a cheap attempt to popularize on the Minecraft voxel style instead is built out to be this gorgeous-looking action racer that is very rewarding. The controls are frustrating and the levels challenging, but it’d be difficult to regret playing this one.


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