Developer: Andrey Krasovsliy
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

IMG_0408Gamers tend to be a rather masochistic bunch. There is no better example of this than the shoot-em-up genre. If the player doesn’t hate themselves when they start playing the game, they sure as heck will by the time their play session is completed. The bar of difficulty is so high that only the strong of both will and skill can survive. The new title Fornax: Space Scroll Shooter is hoping to strike that same vibe with iOS gamers, while still mixing in small doses of RPG elements for good measure. Can it stand up to the long legacy of great titles that have preceded it, or does it fail to reach the same bar of precision that the audience has grown to expect over the years?

“See spaceships. See Spaceships dodge. See spaceships dodge and then blow other cruisers to kingdom come.” Anyone who could read ‘See Spot Run’ is capable of playing a schmup like Fornax: Space Scroll Shooter, however, in order to be successful and progress, more than just a desire to win is necessary. What the player has going in their favor are two extra features aside from the standard blasters: a manually equipable super-weapon and the ability to temporarily slow down time. Additional weapons and upgrades can then be purchased over time in order to improve many different aspects of the ship.

IMG_0406Enhancements to the spacecraft are well and good, but if the controls are mediocre nothing else is going to matter. Unfortunately this is one of those cases where the on-screen touch controls lag behind the input in a manner that makes effectively navigating the impending bullet-hell near impossible. But once the player begins to die on a regular basis, the offense becomes even more egregious.

Despite this being a pay version of Fornax, the player can actually run out of lives. This would be fine and dandy if the developers just flashed a “Game Over” on screen called it a day. Sadly, this is not the case at all. Instead players are forced to buy more in-game lives, using items that can only be bought using real-life cash, in order to continue their quest. It would be one thing if this were a freemium game, but when this occurs in a for-pay title, it just makes everyone involved look bad.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter that Fornax: Space Scroll Shooter is a promising middle-grade schmup with troubled game mechanics. Ultimately, it ends up undercutting itself by gouging the consumer. Save the coinage and pass on this expedition.

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