Developer: INFINITE LIVES
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad

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

Mobile gaming has been good for those of us who relish all things retro. Games from the 80s and early 90s that would have only seen the light of day through MAME or other emulators are now becoming more and more available through legitimate services like the App Store. This has spawned not only a rebirth of older games but the birth of a new genre – games that look retro, but are in fact newly designed and produced (Is there a name for this genre? If not, neo-retro will have to suffice). Moral Decay is SO committed to its neo-retro roots, its opening screen even proclaims a copyright year of 1989.

If you’ve played any side-scrolling action/shooters from the 8 bit era, you know what to expect here. Epic hero Chris T. (who looks amazingly similar to Rambo) must take down those who would peddle the evil of drugs to the “Just say no” generation. Walking and jumping from left to right, Chris must use his machine gun to butcher every enemy he comes across. His kills result in a requisite excessive amount of cartoon gore; likewise, when enemies overpower him, Chris’ death is one big bloody splatter.

If you die (and you WILL die….a lot…over and over again, actually) you have three opportunities to resurrect yourself and try a different tactic. Enemy placement and tactics are set in stone, so at least you know how to avoid the next mistake in line. The problem with Moral Decay is that it is often hard to distinguish environmental details. I died a few times before I realized a certain black blob on the screen was a hole that meant certain death. Add to this the fact that the controls (a joypad and an “a” and “b” button) are entirely virtual and hard to handle consistently, and you have a game that’s clever, but not begging to be played often.

Moral Decay gets the details right. The graphics look like something straight out of ESWAT or Final Fight, and the music captures the spirit of the times exactly. Even the difficulty is accurate – 80s side-scrollers were wickedly brutal.

In true retro, quarter-gobbling fashion, this is one hard game. So hard, in fact, it’s pretty much off-putting for anyone except the most hard-core gamer. If that’s what the developer was aiming for, then so be it. As for me, even though I appreciate the effort put into the aesthetics of the game, it quickly became redundant, frustrating and dull.


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