Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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It’s only human nature that we all face a certain point in our lives when we just want to punch something. Anything. That’s where video games come in; they’ve always presented a healthy outlet to safely unload all of that frustration.
Laboratory’s The Strongest is one of the best recent examples of note when it comes to channeling all the good that can come from indulging the thralls of mindless aggression into a gauntlet of cerebral challenges.
What does that mean exactly? Well let’s dive into the nuances of the very thing The Strongest will have you do about 99.9% of the time: punching. Standing tall in the middle of a throughway known to cater to heavy civilian traffic is one really, really muscular nameless dude throwing around challenges through his fists. Left and right, punching anything all who dare to pass by — well not all. Our raging tough guy is an animal lover, and doesn’t believe in serving knuckle sandwiches to any of the animal critters scampering by.
There’s no real objective, and no way to really lose. The world in The Strongest never stops as long as you have it open and running. Yet there’s always plenty of punching to give, and a bunch of thinking involved with how you go about it.
The hero is measuring his efforts with feats - namely three different pursuits at any given time that award him experience. Stuff like punching three Halflings, or preventing ten would-be victims from passing by without missing a single punch.
Completing these feats is a bit more complicated than it may initially seem as there many factors that will interfere with your efforts. For instance, punching a poor helpless critter at any point will reset the progress back to zero on three feats. The specific nature of one feat can also conflict with potentially finishing up another one, making it impossible to try and multi-task all of them simultaneously. You'll be pushed to prioritize, and the beauty of it is that the rhythmic gameplay of The Strongest is so smooth, it’ll quickly become instinctive.
When the strong man reaches enough experience, he’ll sometime be awarded a new helmet to wear. These silly-looking helmets don’t really add anything to the game directly other than a flair of style, but the humor is a nice touch and comes off as an exchange of tongue-in-cheek meets social commentary on the state of player development in video games today.
The retro-inspired aesthetic of gaming’s past has ironically become an antiquated means of design that’s more than worn out it’s initial welcome in recent years, but the particular use of the style applied within The Strongest works pretty well. The goofy articulation of pixel art and animations help reinforce the inherent silliness, and the chiptune music is another nice touch.
iOS gamers can do a whole lot worse for $0.99, and there’s too much fun to be ignored within The Strongest. Especially when it never ceases its wonderfully stupid sense of magic.