Moral: when you’ve lost your house and hair, revel in still having teleporting shoes
Size: 115 MB
Developer: Black Pants Studio GmbH
You know you’re having a bad day when you finish building a new house and the wind blows it away. You know you’re having a really bad day when the errant gust takes your luscious locks, too. Bald and homeless, Hendrik can at least console himself in still having a pair of teleporting shoes. Your aim in Blown Away is to utilize them to traverse 120 levels packed full of floating platforms, roaming fire-spitting foes, and deadly windmills, collecting up chunks of your house and eventually revealing the secret of the wind.
This is easier said than done. It turns out the major snag with teleporting shoes is the battery drains whenever they’re used. So while Hendrik can in theory leap to any point in an auto-scrolling level by you tapping the screen, he subsequently needs to march along for a bit for the shoes to recharge. At first, this isn’t an issue — early challenges are slight, and you can make it to the end of each stage with some fairly ham-fisted prodding. Before long, though, Blown Away’s nature becomes apparent.
Although Blown Away is a game with one foot firmly planted in the auto-runner platform game sub-genre, it is also a puzzle game. Even from early on, it’s clear that there’s an optimum route to find in each stage, not least if you want to grab all of the pick-ups on the way to your goal. (And you’ll feel like a failure if you don’t.) Subtly and gradually, though, the tests become more severe. Additional monsters block your path; gaps between blocks become wider; windmills with their whirling blades increase in number.
On reaching these sterner challenges, Hendrik is at least bestowed with additional powers: extra shoe batteries; the ability to teleport into and destroy blocks; cannons for blasting through inconveniently placed enemies. But these are a blessing and a curse, because although it’s great to be able to teleport three times in quick succession, you soon realize the levels at that point demand it. Blown Away therefore becomes a tricky juggling act of quick thinking, deft timing, finger gymnastics, and memorization.
The level design is never unfair — there’s always a way through, even if it’s not apparent at first. And despite its sedate early stages, Blown Away is frequently surprisingly exhilarating when you’re zooming about the place, teleporting into empty space in the hope that when the screen scrolls there will be somewhere firm to leap to next. There’s an imagination and flair here that — in tandem with some lovely hand-drawn graphics and a sweet soundtrack — place Blown Away at the top of the iPhone one-thumb platformer heap, running shoulders with the likes of Rayman Fiesta Run and Food Run HD.