Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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The snappy, spicy nights of Fall are well on their way, which makes this as good a time as any to play a game like Leaf on the Wind by Pangea Software. This colorful physics/puzzle game involves piles of leaves dancing on the wind - the kind of thing that makes people think of pumpkin spice lattes, apple-picking, and of course, decorative gourd season.
However, while Leaf on the Wind's graphics are pretty and calming, its gameplay makes the blood race a little bit. In fact, it's a tricky game - a little too tricky in parts - leading to some needless frustration.
Players begin each stage by blowing a ream of leaves off a tree. Then, by swiping the screen to create gusts of wind, they guide their mighty leaf cloud to the waiting tree at the end of each stage. On the way to the home tree, the player needs to use the leaves to pull levers and knock over blocking objects. They also need to avoid myriad hazards in each stage, including thorns, fire, gears, and sentient clouds that blow out icy puffs of breath (hey, if I were a cloud and I saw a bunch of leaves functioning as a swarm, I'd probably try and take them down, too). If the player loses more than half their leaves (or if they lose a third of their leaves while playing on hard mode), the game ends.
Getting anywhere in Leaf on the Wind requires a lot of swiping. Sometimes it requires furious swiping. The game advises players to de-activate the iPhone's in-app Control Center, and that's not bad advice. Doing so doesn't alleviate all the frustrations, though. Oftentimes it's hard to tell where the leaves are supposed to go, or what they're supposed to do. Guiding leaves to push a lever is intuitive enough, but other stages require you to manipulate objects like see-saws, with no explanation of why they're suddenly necessary to open doors instead of levers.
There's the matter of level length, too. Levels tend to ramble on, which is fine - except failing at any point means starting all over again. No checkpoints. It's enough to make the player heave a big, big sigh.
But when Leaf on the Wind isn't frustrating the pants off the player, it's a satisfying game to play. There's something compelling about guiding dozens of leaves with a mere swipe of your finger. Go, my pretties! Settle on lawns and drive the Neighborhood Association batty! Nya ha ha!