Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4, iPad 2
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Notable Flash games site Kongregate has launched their first published title for mobile, Escape. Developed by Incredible Ape, this game can be most easily described as a cross-between the wall-jumping gameplay of NinJump or Ninjatown: Trees of Doom, with the retro art aesthetic and unforgiving difficulty of Semi Secret's Gravity Hook HD. Players control a ninja who must escape from the pit it finds itself in by rapidly jumping between walls, and staying above the laser that is coming up to try and vaporize it. Also, the walls have spikes on them, because what is a task without some obstacles in the way?
Escape's pixel art is simple but looks great on high-resolution screens. The chiptune soundtrack fits well, being fast-paced and high-intensity, a great fit for this game. The sessions are very short, lasting only a few seconds before death, due to the challenge, which means that a high score is typically not far away. The game's fast pace and ability to jump faster when perfectly timed leads to an interesting dilemma for players: risk sudden death by trying to ascend quickly, or take it slow-ish, knowing that one wrong move might be the end? It's an interesting amount of strategy for such a fast-paced game.
Yet, this mid-game strategization comes with a curious subtlety to the jumping controls that I don't quite know if it works that well given how fast the game goes. Holding down longer causes the player to jump higher, and tapping quickly causes a shorter jump. It just seems too difficult in the environment of the game to determine just how precise of a jump must be used in order to not die.
On iOS, the game doesn't use Game Center at all, it uses a Kongregate login solely for high scores and achievements. I understand that they published the game, and I wouldn't have a problem if it was alongside Game Center integration, but to leave it out for their proprietary network is not fair to iOS gamers. As well, is there any reason why an in-app web view couldn't have been used instead of kicking out to Safari to view leaderboards and achievements on the Kongregate website?
Escape is a fun, challenging diversion for the retro-minded endless jumping fan. Try out the Flash-based web version first, and enjoy the mechanic that sadly didn't translate to mobile: hitting the escape key to jump.