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Review: Burn it down – black & white retro platformer has a dark twist

Black and white puzzle platformer is short, but dark and super enjoyable

Games like Burn It Down are something of a rarity. Plenty of titles go down the retro route – the smartphone is a perfect platform for this kind of nostalgic throwback. However, this new black and white puzzle inspired platformer employs a much darker narrative to a genre that generally leans towards a more cutesy tone. Did you ever see Princess Toadstool get mad at Mario and plunge him into a world of psychological mind games? Absolutely not. But in Burn It Down, that’s the world its protagonist finds himself in.

Heather looks pretty made...

Heather looks pretty made…

Essentially, the main character is looking for his wife Heather in their large and sprawling house. Her ghostly whispers ring out throughout the game as you get closer and traverse her intricately set traps. The game is 50 levels long and not only do you have to solve the platform inspired puzzles; avoiding certain obstacles, finding the optimum run up or employing inch-perfect timing, you have to do it in a time limit. Players have an hour in which to complete all fifty levels. Of course, you can have a break and come back to it, and each time you fall down a hole the timer stops until you respawn at the beginning of the short, but devilishly difficult levels.

Between seven rocks and a hard place.

Between seven rocks and a hard place.

There’s a few unique quirks to the gameplay too. You tap the left and right sides of the screen to control the character’s movement, but running and jumping are automatic. If you have enough space and hold down one of the move buttons, he’ll eventually start running. If he’s running when he gets to the end of a platform, he’ll automatically jump.

Burn It Down isn’t designed for super long term play. Without giving away the ending – there’s two of them, depending on whether you beat the timer, or not. It’s not a terribly difficult game though, so we imagine it wouldn’t be beyond a player’s reach to complete it in the allotted time straight away. Our first time saw us finish in 1 hour, 1 minute and 31 seconds. Pretty close. The second run through, now familiar with the gameplay, meant we could complete it in 30 minutes.

However, it’s hugely satisfying to finish the game at all, and its encouragement to do it in longer sittings makes a nice change to the iOS game genre.

Going to have to take a long run up for this one

Going to have to take a long run up for this one.

So, is there anything wrong with Burn It Down? Yes. The ads. Dear god, the ads. The game is a free title, which makes sense, because it might be frustrating to pay for what is essentially a short-form game. However, it’s not simple pop ups, it’s video ads that pop up about once every five respawns (and that happens a lot) requiring you to watch 5 seconds of an ad each time.

You can remove ads for a dollar, which would be recommended. Burn It Down is definitely worth this amount. Further IAPs include adding ‘shadow guides’. You’re given three to start with, and they essentially show you how to complete the level. We forgot all about these until the end and used one. The puzzle element is generally simple to figure out and most of the skill is in the execution, anyhow.

Spikes retract from the top and arise from the bottom. Timing is everything.

Spikes retract from the top and arise from the bottom. Timing is everything.

But if you do get stuck you can buy an extra three for $0.99, 12 for $2.99 or 50 – one for each level – for $9.99. Though that would seem to make the whole idea of playing the game redundant. For the best experience we’d say remove ads (we completed it with ads and didn’t resort to pulling any hair out at all… though it was close) but don’t cheat yourself with extra shadow guides.

Price: Free (IAPs)
Version: 1.0
Size: 15.3 MB
Developer: Tapinator

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