Developer: Vital Games
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad mini (Retina)

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Inspired by titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Gene is a new platformer that uses a pretty unusual mechanic for its gameplay. Players take the role of a squishy space alien – Gene – who must physically mutate to in order to gain new powers and abilities. As the alien mutates so does its actual body color, signifying what abilities one can use and take advantage of. The ultimate aim is to find coins and gems, and repair one’s ship.

When the developers say that Gene carries with it some seriously “huge” level plans, they certainly weren’t kidding. Each level will probably take one between 20-25 minutes to complete. Aiming to collect as many coins as possible, players will strive to reach each of the 15 level endpoints as they jump the unleveled and platformed environment, descending into the dark caves below and avoiding those pesky enemies along the way – all in the fastest time possible.

photo 3One specific mutation, “Yellow” for example, will give players the ability to place mines in the paths of their enemies. This is especially handy if one needs to get to the other side of a platform safely. But don’t be fooled by the art-style, because that Super Mario-style jumping on enemies won’t work here. Instead, Gene relies on one first coming to grips with each of these color mutations and their abilities in order to defend any potential threat they may come up against. Players are only graced with a total of three lives, so there is some call for a certain level of diligence.

Controls are pretty straightforward. There are two directions: Backward and forward, and tapping either of these two directional buttons on the left-hand side of the screen will see one able to move in the desired direction. Beside these buttons one also has both a jump control and access to the Mutations dial. Those looking for extended gameplay might be pleased to hear that Gene is split into both level-by-level gameplay, and Free Play modes. In Free Play, an option selectable from the game’s World Map view, players can play Gene to their heart’s content.

photo 5Gene‘s overall environment is well designed, and for an indie title I was quite impressed at the level of detail. Being backed by a space-infused soundtrack (that didn’t appear to become annoying after a long period) and smooth gameplay made for an average gaming session.

The only real issue I could foresee with Gene is that currently a player must call up a dial interface – and rotate this dial manually – in order to select the correct mutation they need. While the use of physical mutations to control a player’s abilities was refreshing, I felt that the way in which a player is forced to select each of these different mutations became tiresome in the long-run and could ultimately do with a rethink.

Right now, Gene is a casual title I would probably return to on a Sunday afternoon.


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