Developer: Pixels on Toast
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

ImpossibleRoad-4Impossible Road is an excellent example of how a highly-repeatable game should work. There’s the immediate visual appeal, simple controls, a goal that makes immediate sense, yet plenty of depth in challenge to get the player to come back again and again.

Players need to get a ball to roll as far along a winding road for as long as possible, scoring points by passing through checkpoints. Players don’t control the ball, they only spin the track left and right. If the ball falls off the road, it’s not the end–as long as it hits the road again before the screen goes white, all is good. It’s not about hitting a certain number of checkpoints–score is based entirely on the last checkpoint number reached. ‘Jumping’ from checkpoint 3 to 13 is exactly the same as if managing to stay on the road and hitting checkpoints 4 through 12 in order. Of course, jumping is random since the ball can bounce far off the track and lead to one’s demise. I’d call it a risk-reward system, but the game ramps up its challenge so quickly that it’s more about adjusting to survive and advance.

ImpossibleRoad-1What’s interesting is that really, any strategy that works is valid. Constantly jumping is a possibility, a risky one to be sure, but something that could work. However, since points are only awarded for reaching each checkpoint, players who try to stay on the road can theoretically do just as well. It’s solely about getting as far as possible, no matter how it’s actually done. The game makes it incredibly easy to play–and replay–over and over again.

Impossible Road‘s visual style is incredibly minimalistic, yet is a great fit. Only a metallic blue is ever used, even the ball that the player controls is just solid white, but the way that everything fades back into white as failure approaches is inspired. It’s a stunning, simple look that’s perfect. The controls work well, just allowing for left and right spinning.

The only problem I find with the format of the game is that randomness is both a driving element and both the key flaw. The tracks are so random that often it’s just a matter of getting a good break with the design to allow the player to last longer. Yes, as with any random game, skill plays a big part, but often I’ve fallen off the road early on, and wound up nowhere near the road. It feels like a bit more curation with the procedural generation of levels would make the game work a lot better.

Of course, difficulty is promised in the title, and it didn’t keep me from coming back again and again. This visually-stunning game is well worth it.

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