App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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I guess there are enough games like Gene Effect out there to say there's an exploration genre. These games tend to be about as vague as the genre they would belong to would be, but in general they involve a lot of moving about a big open space and the occasional bit of collecting, photographing, or, as in Gene Effect's case, scavenging. There is one thing beyond exploration they often share, and Gene Effect is no different. It too has absolutely stonking visuals.
Even though it's a side-scroller on a small screen, the bevy of lighting effects and detail work on show gives the dark caverns of Gene Effect a very impressive 3D effect. There's the glow of the fauna against the dankness of the rock, the smooth integration of the HUD, the graceful animation, all complemented by the ambience of a soft, subtle soundtrack. It's one of the most impressively presented iOS games I've played to date, and clearly a lot of work has gone into making it so visually appealing.
It's great that the visuals are so impressive, because there isn't much in this game beyond exploring and scavenging. It's designed to be slow-paced, right down to the sluggish drift of the mining ship through the long caverns, and that's fair enough. Some people will lap up the relaxed approach to finding hidden materials, the occasional bit of puzzle solving, and the easily negotiable nature of the enemies. And there's no shortage of caverns to explore either, although for the current price that's expected. Still, there's a feeling that there needs to be something else in this game because those occasional other elements are very shallow, very simple, very brief distractions from the main thing you'll be doing, namely moving about really rather slowly. It doesn't help that the story, which has the potential to be interesting, is presented in impenetrable walls of text. In large doses it feels like a slog.
Even with all the content, for the current asking price it's difficult to recommend Gene Effect as something that will definitely be enjoyed. But as something peacefully simple but exceptionally pretty, Gene Effect will be right up the alley of many an iOS gamer.