App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Alabama Bones feels like a game from years ago. The retro graphics certainly play a factor in that. The game’s theming as a sendup of Indiana Jones is another contributor. Most importantly though, Alabama Bones is laser-focused on having you play its levels, which is an oddly rare thing, considering most modern free-to-play games full of meta-management layers, currency grinds, and social hooks.
Alabama Bones is a one-touch platformer where you raid tombs in search of golden idols. You are put in control of the titular hero, who automatically runs through temple environments, and you need to tap on the right things at the right times to help him get through a level safely.
As opposed to many other one-touch platformers, Alabama Bones isn’t all about tapping to jump. Levels in this game are littered with context-sensitive icons instead, and tapping the screen when Alabama Bones is near one of these icons performs a specific action. These things include climbing ladders, crawling under tight spaces, swinging on ropes, and even shooting enemies.
Because action is restricted in Alabama Bones, you have to plan your taps carefully. Sure, in the first few levels, you can get by if you just tap whenever you see an icon. As you get further along in the game though, there are some trick icons or actions you have to plan to approach from a specific angle to make sure you don’t run headlong into spikes or get captured by goblin natives.
While playing Alabama Bones, it's hard to know what to expect in the next level. This isn’t because there’s some new surprise mechanics that pop up. It’s more because—across Alabama Bones’s ridiculous number of levels—the challenge ebbs and flows unpredictably. It’s common in this game to go from a complicated, multi-step level that you had to retry a dozen times and move onto a dead simple level that you complete on the first try without much thought.
The most remarkable thing about Alabama Bones is just how stripped down an experience it is. When you fire it up, you’re taken almost immediately to the level you left off on, and it’s really easy to cruise through five or so levels without even thinking about it. There’s just a really smooth and quick flow between levels that is unusual for free-to-play games these days.
This flow only really lasts for as long as you don’t die, though. Alabama Bones’s brand of free-to-play monetization is pop-up ads that you see pretty frequently when you die. These ads—naturally—disrupt what is otherwise a really smooth experience, and the worst part of it all is you can’t even opt out of them. Alabama Bones is so stripped-down that it has no in-app purchases, not to mention any menus except for a level select screen.
The bottom line
It’s weird to say this, but I wish I could pay for Alabama Bones. Without the ads, Alabama Bones is a refreshing and quick one-touch platformer that is good fun. It may have an uneven difficulty curve, but it’s still fun to sail through levels, provided you aren’t being interrupted by ads for the latest App Store shovelware between deaths.