App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
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An array of hazardous test chambers. Platforming puzzles involving disorienting perspective shifts. An omniscient, creepy voice overseeing the entire affair. Does any of this sound familiar? If you’re flashing on a popular, cake meme-spawning PC/console video game, don’t feel bad; you’re not alone. However, it also happens to handily describe Gravinaytor.
Gravinaytor, formerly a flash-based browser offering by Alnoor Games, drops the player into a side-scrolling, retro-styled puzzle-platformer where shifting gravity is the key component to solving each level. Each level’s background is marked with various sections of moving arrows, indicating which direction gravity will pull the player. The iOS port sports five new levels, in addition to a level select menu that allows easy replay of previously completed stages for better completion times.
Unfortunately, what it doesn't sport is good, responsive controls. Players have to choose between either tapping the screen to jump while tilting to run, or dividing the screen awkwardly into three sections, with the middle third controlling jumps and the outer thirds your left and right movement. Unfortunately, neither option works very well.
The tilt controls are simply far too imprecise for a game of this nature and render all but the easiest levels essentially unplayable. Meanwhile, the awkward placement of the large onscreen touch zones make standard actions, like platforming up a series of fixed alternating ledges, difficult for the non-ambidextrous among us. Replacing the huge, unwieldy touch zones with virtual left/right arrow keys in one corner of the screen and a dedicated jump button opposite them would have been the way to go here. Go ahead and keep the tilt controls in there, though; having more options is never bad. Also, it gives the hardcore something brutal to challenge themselves with. They love that sort of thing.
The pacing also seems uneven, with some levels essentially playing themselves, while the next could leave me wanting to fling my iPhone at a wall in frustration. It feels like the newly added stages are inserted randomly into the old sequence of levels with little consideration to how they affected the flow.
Likewise, the simple, retro visuals and soothingly appealing electronic soundtrack are undermined by the annoyingly repetitive voice samples of the odd child-voiced computer overseeing the entire affair. An option to disable it that didn't involve shutting off all off the sound would be appreciated. And even when left on, it’s totally unnecessary to have the same line about buttons and cats play in every single test chamber that happens to contain a button.
Ultimately, the iOS version of Gravinaytor is a basically good game suffering from a case of bad port-itis. It still has some genuinely fun moments, but they’re tucked inside questionable controls that fight the player every step of the way. Unfortunate, but nothing a good update can’t fix.