Developer: Semi Secret Software
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad, iPhone 3G

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Gravity Hook HD is a sequel to Semi Secret Software’s (developers of Canabalt) first Flash game, Gravity Hook, ported to iOS.

There are two things to realize about this game: one, it is a game of inertia and velocity. Your goal is to ascend as high as possible by latching on to objects hanging in midair, and pulling yourself towards them. You can’t latch on to objects that are too far away lest you lose your velocity, and then you’ll either need to recover by latching onto closer objects lest you fall off the bottom of the screen. Early on, the objects that you latch on to are basic latch points, but eventually other objects such as mines that detonate if you touch them while you’re latched to them, and dummy points that break shortly after you latch on to them. This gets me to the other thing that Gravity Hook HD is: it is difficult. So very difficult. This game takes mastery of its physics engine and quick reaction times in order to have any hope of getting a high score.

Gravity Hook HD on iOS is a tremendous improvement over its Flash version, because of the quicker reaction times you have by being able to tap anywhere on a touchscreen instead of using a mouse. The game is also a universal app, but controls about as well on the iPhone as it does on the iPad. I noticed similar score ranges between my iPhone and iPad.

Identical to Canabalt, there are leaderboards for your top 10 local scores, as well as the top 100 daily, weekly, monthly, and all-time scores. Danny Baranowsky returns with several new tracks for Gravity Hook HD, that rotate every time you ascend several hundred feet. There’s also a Classic Mode that plays like the original Gravity Hook, that will make you appreciate just how much more forgiving Gravity Hook HD is.

The problem with Gravity Hook HD is that its core gameplay concept isn’t built for simple addiction like how Canabalt was – it just isn’t as simple. The difficulty level is often daunting. It’s a lot harder to get a good session going, particularly as there’s more thought required to succeed as you need to realize where you are and the closest point to latch on is. It’s more involved, and that makes it harder to enjoy in part because it is much more of a complex and challenging concept. It doesn’t have that simple addictiveness of a game like Canabalt.

But the challenge and relative complexity of Gravity Hook HD are part of the package – this is a game that is unashamed to be unforgiving, and if you can appreciate that, you will likely appreciate Gravity Hook HD to be more than just the typical pick up and play game, but what makes it unique keeps it from being truly great. However, Semi Secret’s touch is all over this game, and that’s what makes it really good, if you can survive it.

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