Version Reviewed: 1.0
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We've seen plenty of variations on climbing games, but Axolot's latest title, ABOVE, really takes the cake when it comes to simplicity and artistic awesomeness. Bored with Doodle Jump's plain theme, or want a climbing game that's a bit harder? Take a good look at this little gem.
ABOVE's premise is as surreal as its art style: a series of platforms have materialized in the air; it's up to you to explore as high as possible without falling. The controls are touch-based and require a single finger. You character runs across the screen from left to right on his own; the only thing you can do is make him jump. To do so, tap and hold; the longer you hold, the more powerful your jump will be when you release. The inability to control your character's direction adds another level of challenge, so you'll have to adjust to that as well.
As you ascend into the clouds, the platforms will become more spread out and will begin to move. At the highest of heights, it takes skill and timing to avoid gaps in the spaced-out platforms and avoid tumbling to a brightly colored death. You also uncover special platforms. Some will give your jump a magical boost when you jump off of them, while others will send you spiraling down to an early death.
That's all there is to it, and on the surface, it's ridiculously simple. But playing ABOVE is a very smooth experience, which is only enhanced by the bright art style. The platforms pop off the screen, and the attention to detail is stunning. You can even startle pigeons when you jump on their platforms. Similarly, the "groovy" soundtrack keeps a solid tempo. Other small touches are also nice: your high scores show up as in-game markers, and there are a few simple achievements.
Though we've seen plenty of similar titles before, ABOVE is much more challenging thanks to the unique (though simple) controls, and the graphics are nothing short of gorgeous. Three levels gives you some variety, and it's perfect for pick-up-and-play. My only complaint is that auto-save is nonexistent, which is rather annoying. Still, if you like climbing-style games at all, be sure to look at ABOVE. It's an excellent example of a simple-and-sweet mobile game.