Developer: Shadegrown Games
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.02
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
Graphics/Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

There is a certain joy to be found in an App that allows both the construction and destruction of stars; almost an ephemeral dream come to life at the fingertips. Starbloom offers such an experience, wrapping up a meditative experience with simple, colorful visuals and a relaxing yet exciting soundtrack. While there are the usual culprits to denote it is a game, the experience feels much more like just having fun and relaxing for the sake of it.

When first loading Starbloom, a prompt is given to start constructing stars by following around planets with a finger and collecting the various bits they drop off. These planets follow a strict orbit, and it is easy to recognize when they’ll drop their star-creating bits and bobs due to little white dots that punctuate these orbits. As time goes on, more planets appear. More star-creating bits and bobs are generated, and the goal is to flit between them, racking up bonuses, not hitting the planets themselves (doing so results in the score multiplier resetting), and exulting in the bell-like, husky sounds that emit from the collection.

Subsequently, upon finishing those levels, destruction awaits! The gameplay is largely the same, but slightly tweaked. Instead of avoiding the planets, this time the goal is to run into them so that those white spots in their orbit appear, which results in star-destroying bits and bobs this time. Meanwhile, the star itself will expand through the solar system, gobbling up planets, and threatening to reset the score multiplier if hit.

Which means the goal could be seen as purely creating and destroying these stars, though that offers no challenge. Then again, the only inherent challenge seems to be besting one’s own score, which might seem fun, but the other bits are so enthralling that it seems almost petty to relegate the entire experience to points. After all, the soundtrack created alone justifies the purchase of this app. I sometimes found myself mourning the silence caused waiting for the next planet to pop and provide more tune-making goodness. It was almost like being a toddler again, banging on some childlike musical instrument (though the sounds were much more aurally pleasing).

If I have one complaint it would be that the entire user interface does not seem to wholly live up to the rest of the app. The font sometimes reads as too thin and rather incongruous with the rest of the app. It is such a minor quibble, though, particularly from someone who rarely paid much attention to the game score.

So, if music, solar systems, and swiping around fingers in search of little pick-me-ups can be considered an amusing distraction, Starbloom would be among the champions of the genre. It is such a pleasant experience overall that it can easily be pulled out whenever there is need of a calm moment.