Developer: Geardome
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

photo6When I was first introduced to Ozone, I thought: “This game looks awesome, but there’s not enough blood, gore or shooting in it to satisfy my gaming needs.” After giving it a go, however, I quickly realized that I was wrong; very, very wrong.

The game’s developers, Geardome, invites players to “dive into the galaxy of Ozone and unveil the secrets of this unique audio-visual experience, a mix of art and technology, never before seen or heard on a mobile device.” And that’s exactly what Ozone does: It’s mesmerizing visuals/audio act like a peacock’s plumage, enticing gamers to give it a look-see, knowing full well they’ll be hooked after experiencing what the game has to offer.

In Ozone, players control a hovering, air-filled inflatable ball through a series of clever, visually appealing, well-designed levels, with the goal of collecting a pre-determined amount of yellow orbs which, when all are collected, opens an exit portal allowing players to exit the level, progressing to the next. In addition, players must avoid various enemies and traps throughout each level, while ensuring their ball doesn’t run out of air.

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Players control their ball via a virtual D-pad and a brake button. Tapping a direction on the D-pad will cause the ball to propel in the direction pressed, using the air contained within itself and will continue floating along, bouncing to and fro until you either hit the brake button or the ball runs out of momentum. Learning to use the brake button correctly is a vital skill required to collect all of the yellow orbs throughout levels and traverse the various levels successfully.

Each time a player moves their ball, air is released from within it and it becomes progressively smaller. As players use air within their ball to move it, the ball becomes smaller and smaller, until it runs out. This symbiotic relationship forces players to use the D-pad sparingly, incorporating an extra element of strategy within the game.

Once the ball runs out of air, as indicated by a gauge located at the top of the screen, you’re all out of love. Players must complete levels without depleting their air gauge, as AGD (Air Gauge Depletion) results in death for your little air ball (I named mine Wilson). Fear not, however, as various weapons and powerups, such as air pumps, are scattered throughout the levels, allowing players to refill their balls with air, but they will still be wise to use the D-pad sparingly.

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Three different weapons are available throughout each level. Players can use these weapons to eliminate enemies/clear their path by pressing the corresponding on-screen virtual button (one weapon fires automatically, requiring no input from the user). The Plasma Gun, for example, releases a directional bullet of plasma each time a player taps the button (depending on the direction the ball is traveling in). This weapon is not easy to use. Other power ups, such as a strength power-up, which turns your ball into an invincible ball of steel for 30 seconds, are also available in certain levels.

photo3Graphically, Ozone is a transcendental experiment in vibrant, colorful, abstract visuals sporting high resolution textures and remarkable, relaxing ambient music, which combine to form a highly successful formula for engrossing, immersive game play. The visuals are smooth and beautifully hand-crafted and the ambient music is soft and relaxing: the ball’s collisions with the walls lining each level release crisp, clean melodic chords/notes that interweave perfectly with the zen-like soundtrack. Ozone’s audio-visual elements combine to form a superior audio-visual experience players will lose themselves in. So relaxing is the soundtrack, I fell asleep mid-play, only to awaken to find I drooled all over my iPhone and my 11-year old son gorging on Easter candy. Players can even download the game’s full soundtrack from Geardome’s website, for free.

Among its other features are the ability for players to create their own levels, future downloadable content to expand the game and global leaderboards, all adding to the game’s already-high replay value.

photo7Ozone contains over 50 3D levels spanning 4 gorgeous, themed worlds and a comprehensive, built-in tutorial. Thanks to game’s superior audio-visual scheme, game play is ultimately dependent upon the player: Players can opt to wind down with relaxing, leisurely game play, enjoying the beautifully-rendered levels and crystal clear soundtrack, or scoot about the levels to achieve a high score or chase their previous high score.

As mentioned earlier, players greatly rely on their air ball’s movement, momentum and trajectory, encouraged by the layout of the level walls, to successfully navigate the levels without wasting their precious air supply. That said, the mechanics of this game play are but one element which contributes greatly to its success, while at the same time hindering the overall success of the game’s control scheme.

That said, while Ozone can be relaxing, successfully progressing through each level can be anything but. Each level contains a wide variety of traps and hazards that require precision and timing on the player’s part and game play teeters on the border between being challenging and frustratingly hard/difficult. Fortunately, there are no time constraints, so players can strategize and coordinate their movements at their own pace.

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Using the D-pad to maneuver the air ball can also be frustrating and difficult to master, unnecessarily penalizing players required to search and explore large levels of labyrinths. Furthermore, the game’s beautifully rendered environments contain areas where the player’s view/perspective is hindered by level walls/elements, resulting in surprise ambushes by enemy obstacles, such as giant iron spikes that shoot forth from the walls, plasma-firing turrets inset into the walls and spinning razors which greatly damage and/or deflate the player’s air ball.

Aside from the afore-mentioned, I really couldn’t find much fault with this game. It’s painfully obvious its developers spent a lot of time and effort creating a quality, genre defining game oozing with longevity.

Overall, Ozone is a clever, beautiful, vibrant game that will tickle your visual-auditory fancy. Its sublime levels, decorated with rich, textured art and graphics and polished, engrossing game play will entice you into playing over and again.

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