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Developer: Don’t Step On The Cracks
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Some will call On The Wind a rip-off. Others will say it was simply inspired. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Elements of Flower, thatgamecompany’s seminal PSN title which drew high acclaim for its artistic qualities, are clearly visible in On The Wind: things like playing as the wind, blowing flower petals along, the sequential chimes that ring out as petals are collected, etc. But here’s why it doesn’t really matter: despite their similarities Flower and On The Wind are very different games to play. And yes, this goes beyond the fact that one is 3D and the other 2D; the former’s emphasis is on emotions, atmosphere, and delivering an artistic message, while the latter’s is quite primarily on challenge.

In On The Wind I literally drag petals along as the wind, but rather than making all the flowers in an area bloom like in Flower I’m trying to blow the petals along as far as I can. As I navigate my windswept petals through the silhouetted caverns I’m trying to avoid dragging them into the earth. If I do then I lose petals, as I do if I go long enough without collecting new ones. So I have to quickly twist and turn through the maze-like caverns so that I’m collecting petals, but to do this I’m risking bumping into the earth – and therein lies the challenge.The aim is to survive as long as possible, through all four seasons including the treacherous winter. So a less layered premise than that of a certain other game.

So, judging On The Wind on its own merits, it’s a strong game. The mix of the season’s bright, matching colors against the silhouetted earth is striking, and the chimes bring the presentation together. More importantly, as a challenging game it’s engrossing even if ultimately it’s based on simple collect-and-dodge play. Shifting through the seasons gives an appealing sense of progression, similar to the different islands in Tiny Wings, while leaderboards alongside well thought-out achievements spice up the challenge.

My one complaint is that, despite the left-hand/right-hand option, I’m unable on my iPhone to get my finger comfortable without it sitting over the petals. Since it’s important to see how many petals I’m blowing around given how the game ends when you run out, this is quite a significant flaw. I can accommodate for it – as I drag the petals around I can roughly see how many are fluttering behind my finger – but it takes some getting used to.

Originality is all but impossible in the modern age, so let’s just blow over where On the Wind draws its inspirations from and how heavily. What matters is that it’s beautiful to look at, fun to play, and challenging enough to keep me coming back for more than a few goes. Still, one hopes the developer’s next game isn’t called Voyage.

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