Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: Diversion (iPad)

Diversion is named perfectly. This simple little one button platformer is bright and charming, and utterly absorbing. Playing this on the train I had nearby commuters watching, when usually they have the good grace to at least pretend to be looking elsewhere. Playing this at home in bed, I realised to my great horror that the time had ticked over to 1am. It's one of those games that pull you completely out of reality and absorb you into a simple, but effective, arcade experience.

This game is crazy-addictive


It’s addictive, and there’s a lot to it despite being held together by a very simple concept. The basic goal is to get to a goal post at the end of each short but hectic level, dodging traps and collecting gems and stars along the way. The catch is, your little avatar is on autopilot – the only control you have over what’s going on is a jump button.

Yes, you’ve played these games before, but rarely with this much style. Diversion is a 3D game, now that doesn’t have much of an impact on the gameplay itself, but the chunky polygons have a simple charm that makes the game really easy to get into. In many ways, it reminds me of the original Super Monkey Ball, with the checkered ‘grass’ effect and the fact the levels are suspended high in the air. I don’t know if that was a deliberate decision on the part of the developers, but it gave me a nostalgic hit nonetheless.




The pacing of the game is spot-on, too. There’s a generous number of levels, and they introduce new elements and complexities and a reasonable rate. With the later levels the difficulty level is right up there, especially if you want to get all those stars and high scores. It’s not frustrating to see the little avatar fall off the stage over and over again, because levels are mercifully short, and the challenge of getting just that little bit further is a rewarding one.

The game is also nuts about unlockables. There are a huge number of different costumes to unlock, and though these don’t have an impact on the gameplay, it’s nice to be able to customise your character as it suits you.

Oooh. This is going to hurt

There’s also a large number of “endless” stages that can be unlocked by playing the main game well. There, it’s all about top scores, and that in turn adds another later of addictiveness to the formula.

It’s really hard to criticise a package such as this. There’s a unnecessary little robot character, and he has a very irritating voice to deal with, but other than that, the main problem with this game is that it is a very simple formula. Despite packing so much into the game, at the end of the day Diversion is still a on-rails platformer, and I can’t help but wonder where the developers can go from here. There’s a lot of talent in there, and a less disposable diversion would be great for a follow up.

This game likes spikes

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