Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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Benefit to having suction cups for feet: the ability to stick to any surface and roll to a destination like a happy pebble. Downside to having suction cups for feet: stepping on sharp things capable of punching through rubber almost guarantees a bad outcome.
Pentumble by Helftone is an action/puzzle game that's all about sticking to things and rolling with the fates. Players control a cheerful android that wheels from place to place on suction cups lining the circumference of its body. Each level contains benign gears and platforms players can hitch rides on, but there are also traps galore - fire, spikes, and buzzsaws, just to name a few.
Pentumble is broken up into several stages, each of which have three earn-able stars. Whereas most games award players stars just for showing up, Pentumble forces players to earn these shiny trinkets by playing quickly as well as smartly. It's not easy, and more often than not tumbling through a line of shrieking death-blades by the skin of one's teeth is "celebrated" with a single star and a sarcastic comment from the game.
Yes, Pentumble hurts, but that's what makes it addicting. Players smash to pieces over and over again on beds of spikes and in between gnashing gears, but the compulsion to try again is always there. It helps that Pentumble immediately puts players back in the action after a death. There are no "Try Again?" or "Pay to Save Yourself!" screens that typically kill the momentum in other mobile-based high-death games.
That said, the option for checkpoints would be nice. Most of Pentumble's stages aren't simply about getting from Point A to Point B. There are also barriers that can only be lowered by collecting colored keys, and this multi-step process resets to step one after a death. It's enough to make a player gnaw on their phone (not recommended).
Though Pentumble is punishing, its crisp controls, gear-riding, and platform-hitching are fun enough to entice players into trying stages again and again. Just don't expect mercy, my sucker-footed child.