Developer: Bartosz Ciechanowski
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Puzzle games come in all shapes and sizes in the App Store, and the best versions typically don’t have the bells and whistles that the top sellers do. Maybe I’m just a fan of indie puzzle apps, but there is some serious fun to be had with Portaball.

The first thing to note though is that Portaball really doesn’t have any bells and whistles. There is no sound, the majority of the game is just gray-scale, and there is absolutely no story. It’s just pure puzzle, through and through.

The object of portaball is to get the ball from its starting point to its ending point. The challenge is that you have no control of the ball directly, and it only moves in straight lines. To navigate the ball, you must use a portal system reminiscent of the cleverly named Valve classic, Portal. Each level takes up only one screen, and you must use a series of portals to move your ball around. To impede your progress, there are walls that have to be deactivated, walls that work on triggers, tiles that disappear, and tiles that speed you up (and slow you down if your ball is going the wrong direction).

After about level 3, the game requires quick thinking (or extreme use of the pause button) to figure out where your next portal will go. Because blocks disappear and some walls are on triggers, making a mistake leads to death more often than not. There are no lives or limited restarts, though, so the game will just continue on until you figure the level out.

While there are some easy levels here and there, many of the 50 levels in Portaball require a great deal of thinking. The developers certainly didn’t make it easy to move forward, and there is no help system in the game to guide you on your way. You either beat the levels or you don’t.

Fans of puzzle games will definitely get a kick out of Portaball, but its unforgiving nature and lack of any real graphics or sound will turn away some. If you can get past the utilitarian design, Portaball really is a good game.

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

Tagged with: , ,