Developer: Dawn of Play
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.02
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Roll Back Home, the latest game from Dawn of Play, creators of Dream of Pixels (as revealed on our recent stream of the game, this is essentially a solo project from the programmer of Dream of Pixels), is a puzzle-platformer with a distinct look that’s well worth checking out just for the great, albeit brief, experience.

RollBackHome-1Players control a rolling ball that gets lost, and must roll through 36 levels in order to get back home while relying on jumping and using the environment to make it through. It’s actually a fairly standard platformer premise, and the game isn’t particularly innovative in that sense. But Roll Back Home is absolutely beautiful in motion. Designed to look like it’s being drawn on notebook paper being flipped through to seem animated, the effects – including the scribbling animations that make it seem like someone is in fact drawing each frame – are well worth seeing in more than just screenshots. Even just the way that the ball squishes when hitting walls or the floor gives it a great touch, like it’s an actual object. The monochrome style only falls flat when in levels with breakable objects: figuring out just what is in fact breakable can be tricky.

RollBackHome-3Speaking of the ball being an object, the physics can be a bit tricky to use but they make great use of tilt controls. The ball actually feels like it has a weight to it, and tilting a device, especially something that’s both nimble but with a little bit of heft like the iPad mini, just makes the game feel appropriate. It’s not always the most accurate way of controlling the game, but it feels right. Unfortunately, jumping is a bit of a tradeoff between the proper feel but very imprecise “tilt upward to jump” system, and the better-but-still-imperfect and out-of-place touch jumping, where the player taps and holds on the touchscreen to jump higher.

Roll Back Home is a bit on the brief side. There’s 36 levels – though the later half of the game does get to be pretty challenging, but perhaps not enough to make it an overly-long game. It’s about enjoying the brief experience.

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