Developer: Chaotic Box
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad, iPhone 3G

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

While there are plenty of copycat games on iOS, from countless match-3 games to endless platformers and dual-stick shooters, it is often when developers take common elements and influences from these games and use them in new ways that they to make something that feels fresh and still fun. Chaotic Box’s Silverfish could just as easily be called “Swipe to Live,” as your goal is to survive as long as possible by swiping your Silverish around the arena while avoiding enemies. You don’t have free-range movement here, you can only move in the 4 cardinal directions, locked to an invisible grid – think Pac-Man. As you lack any kind of guns, your main weapon are the orange Power Pods that pop up and destroy enemies in a small radius around you, which drop Protons that increase your score multiplier. There are 3 slightly varying modes to play in, but the goal in each is to not run out of POW or lives, while using your special ability to take care of enemies when they start to overwhelm you. The most prominent mode is Reaper mode, which lets you eat your enemies Pac-Man style when you fill up your POW.

Silverfish has that the kind of survival gameplay that has been popularized by Geometry Wars’ “Pacifism” mode and by Tilt to Live. This gameplay is well represented here, along with a lot more of the chasing, outrunning and outsmarting the hordes of enemies you face, like Pac-Man. It’s familiar but feels original and very addictive, just as those other games are. The swipe controls work very well, and you can customize the swiping range as well to get to a point where you can swipe comfortably without accidentally swiping your Silverfish in a direction you don’t want to go in. Leaderboard and achievement support is present through Game Center as well.

However, if you have a device or iOS version that doesn’t support Game Center yet, you’re out of luck when it comes to leaderboards and achievements. Some kind of temporary invincibility after you take damage in the POW-based mode would make things more fair, as right now it’s very easy to get caught in a large group of enemies, make one bad move and all of a sudden it’s game over, even if you have the POW to take 2 or 3 hits. As well, the game modes all have only subtle differences between them, and figuring out what each one is can be daunting at first when you’re trying to figure just how to play the game for the first time, especially with help screens that overwhelm you with information. An in-game tutorial would be fantastic for first-time players. While Silverfish supports the Retina Display graphics and looks great as is, it does not run in iPad native mode.

Silverfish is a fantastic example of what you can do to take well-known genre influences and mix them up to make a fresh and addictive game. Chaotic Box’s creation is well worthy of a spot on your iOS device of choice.

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