App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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It’s hard to imagine Double Fine producing something that isn’t a quirky adventure or contains more than a fair bit of bizarre humor. And yet produce Double Fine has, and now we have Dropchord. It’s definitely a departure from the norm, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome.
Dropchord is a simple-ish rhythm game at its core. Players use two fingers, placed around the outside of a large circle in the center of the screen, to twist and turn a line around the middle. The goal is to grab all the good stuff (glowing orbs and such) while avoiding the bad stuff (bright red bolts of electricity that scream DO NOT TOUCH) by winding and whirling around everything. Hit the red stuff and lose some health, grab enough not red stuff and gain health at the end of the level. Every so often players will also have to forego the spinning as they tap away at various circles that appear on screen in what can best be described as a kind of bonus round.
It’s a simple premise, but the ways in which many of the obstacles and items are presented mix things up incredibly well. Players will have to start spinning their thumbs around the screen rather wildly if they want to avoid damage while still grabbing all the orbs in sight - unless they don’t mind losing their score multiplyer, of course. Dropchord’s control scheme is very basic, but it's also ingenious with the way that it presents a familiar interface and then almost literally turns it on its head. My thumbs haven’t gotten a workout like this in quite some time and I’m already anxious to jump back in for another round.
Amidst all the thumping tunes, pulsating visuals, and wild finger antics it can sometimes be difficult to figure out what Dropchord wants players to do. The game does a great job of explaining many of the basics along the way, but later concepts aren’t so clearly defined. Both the two-finger tap for large circles and the “spin” move are prime examples of this. It can all be pieced together eventually, and the game gives players plenty of time to figure out new mechanics on their own, but it can really interrupt the flow of a good run.
Dropchord is a fantastic musical experience. The interface is simple and familiar, but also challenging and ingenious. The rhythm drives players forward, the colorful visuals pull them in, and the score chasing keeps them involved far longer than they ever intended to be. It’s a great addition to any iOS gamer’s library.