Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound: Rating:
Game Controls: Rating:
Replay Value: Rating:
Space Age: A Cosmic Adventure is an ambitious adventure game that hearkens back to sci-fi tropes of of the 1960s and 70s - complete with alien saucers, fishbowl helmets, and a deep sense of exploration. While the game achieves this aesthetic beautifully, Space Age suffers when it abandons its roots as a game about exploration and decides to try to be something else.
Playing Space Age can be kind of difficult to describe. It's simultaneously an adventure game, a real-time strategy game, a stealth action game, a puzzler, and something of a visual novel. Going into any one of the available ten missions, players might encounter just one or all of these gameplay elements. One thing is for sure, though: every part of Space Age is oozing with character and style that is super-charming, funny, and endearing.
Because of the funny characters, fantastic art style, and awesome sense of place, it's really hard not to enjoy even the dullest moments in Space Age. With the setting being a mysterious and new planet shrouded in black fog, the potential for discovery and adventure lurks in every corner of the map.
The problem with this potential, however, is that it doesn't really pay off. At least not in particularly satisfying ways. Although there are some achievement-like rewards associated with exploration, Space Age sticks to a pretty tight script that tells a story true to its aesthetic, fraught with a reflection on human advancement and our relationship with technology and its consequences. The narrative benefits from telling the story swiftly, but that comes at the cost of forcing players into sequences that are problematic for Space Age's control scheme and counter to that initial sense of discovery.
Toward the end of Space Age, players will find themselves playing out levels that are entirely like sequences from a real-time strategy game. While there are RTS control schemes that work well on mobile, Space Age feels much better suited to the less precise mode of exploring than it does to anything else, which in turn makes these sequences frustratingly difficult. It is no player's fault that a character fails to move in an intelligent manner because of poor pathfinding and huge hitboxes for characters and objects. Thanks to the difficulty of these moments, players will likely replay them over and over again, which really diminishes the overall experience.
In spite of all that, Space Age is still kind of hard to dislike. It's story - while a little rote - is pretty compelling, and some of the early sections of do really clever and unique things to keep surprising players. This is almost completely lost by the end though, leaving one to feel like at some point Space Age opted out of being clever and decided to become a much more traditional (and much less enjoyable) game.