Developer: GEARDOME
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Can a game be elevated to a work of art? That’s the question asked by developer Geardome with their release of Ozone HD for the iPad. True to its name, Ozone HD provides maximum atmosphere in a challenging and unique gaming environment. Is it art? Not quite, but I’ll settle for this level of ingenuity any day.

At first glance, Ozone HD looks like one of many maze-style games available on the iPad, Labyrinth 2 HD probably being the pinnacle. Looks can be deceiving, however. Ozone has the trappings of many other maze games, but its user interface and strategy style set it apart in significant ways.

The most strategic element of Ozone HD, and the element that truly sets it apart, is its use of air. That’s right – air. Rather than control a marble or other solid object, you control a bubble of air. Movement is generated by releasing air in the opposite direction you wish to travel (manipulated via an on-screen control pad – more on that later). However, each time you use air your bubble diminishes in size. Use too much, and you implode. Fortunately, there are air recharge stations positioned strategically throughout the game, and walls, for once, are not off limits. Using walls to bounce about the maze without using precious resources becomes a critical strategy in later rounds. There are also weapons placed in the maze to help avoid obstacles and to destroy offensive weapons designed to eliminate you.

The atmosphere of the game is incredible, and the developer suggests that this is a game that demands earbud use. I agree, as the use of sound and ambient music is one of the real treats in Ozone HD, and both are too easily ignored without earbuds.

Any maze game depends on nuanced controls, and Ozone HD, on a whole, achieves this. However, the use of a virtual control pad can sometimes make maneuvering difficult. As well-executed as it may be, there is still something missing when the tactile element of an analog control is not present. This is not a criticism of the game, per se, but it is worth mentioning if you find virtual control schemes difficult. Consider trying the free version of the game first if this might prove an issue.

More than many other iPad games, Ozone HD strives to create a truly immersive user experience, with a mechanic that is at once familiar yet original. The result is definitely something other game developers should take note of, and other iPad owners should play.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, Reviews

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