Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound: Rating:
Game Controls: Rating:
Replay Value: Rating:
Particle Mace is a retro-inspired arcade game that has more than a passing resemblance to Asteroids and - more recently - dual joystick shooters like Geometry Wars. Despite this resemblance, Particle Mace has one differentiating feature that makes it wholly unique from its visual compatriots: instead of using a gun, players must whip around space particles that are tethered to their ship in order to clear out asteroids, defeat enemies, and go for a high score. This change by itself is a revelation by being a genuinely game-changing twist, but Particle Mace offers even more than a single novel mechanic to keep it feeling fresh.
Particle Mace is played in portrait mode on phones, with the control pad residing at the bottom of the screen. As players steer their ship around, a trail of particles follow behind on stretchy tethers that will go shooting out in different directions past the ship upon changing course. The goal of the game is to survive as long as possible and rack up a high score by defeating enemies, destroying asteroids, and not colliding with anything in the environment.
It boasts four game modes, all of which put a slight alteration on the general experience. First, there's an easy and hard mode, both of which play much like an unfiltered score attack of varying difficulties. Beyond those two are the Asteroid Field mode, which populates the game space with a ton of asteroids to bust and avoid for as long as possible, and the Mission mode, which doles out three unique objectives for players to try to complete within a single session. They'll most likely find a preferred game type to come back to over and over again (I'm particularly partial to the missions mode), but all of the modes are fun enough so as to feel worthwhile and challenging in their own right.
As players reach certain milestones, they unlock new ships to use. Early on it's a fast ship with many tiny particles on long tethers, and a slow ship with much more closely tethered set of a handful of particles. Much like the different modes, all of these ships feel different and useful depending on the situation, which makes unlocking even more ship types a worthwhile and satisfying pursuit.
For those familiar with the development of Particle Mace, the iOS version may feel like a little bit of a letdown primarily since the PC version boasts multiplayer, but it feels completely fully-featured and worth the asking price. The only actual gripe I have is that the touch controls can be a little frustrating in the sense that ships move faster depending on how far players drag their fingers. The problem here is that the bottom of the control circle is so close to the bottom of the screen that players may find themselves trying to move down faster when they accidentally move their finger off the screen and suddenly stop moving.
That one small criticism aside, Particle Mace is an awesomely fun time. It's challenging in all the right ways and has a great sense of control, style, and replayablilty. In short, it's a totally fantastic game that's really easy to recommend.