Game

Unique gameplay heads to iOS in this weirdly cute sci-fi puzzler-of-sorts

Price: $2.99 / £2.99
Version: 1.0
Size: 117 MB
Developer: Imagility
Platform: iPhone & iPad

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Evergrow is a beautiful puzzle and shooting game which uses highly dynamic physics-based gameplay with some neat multi-touch controls. You start by picking a color, and from then on, you’re in charge of a little block who just wants to grow. It’s a sweet little premise which sees a block (technically, Chromaroid) float around in space, picking up coins, attracting power-ups, and other blocks of the same color. You have to do all this while avoiding mines, but also other colors too. Bash into either of the latter and you’ll sustain damage.

It all starts with this little fella

It all starts with this little fella

Evergrow is a unique title with a design that’s near-perfect– whether we’re talking sound, artwork, or even the haptic feedback, which we’d say is probably the strongest use of Apple’s built-in taptic engine. However, the gameplay can sometimes let it down.

The premise is not dissimilar to traditional puzzle or platform games on iOS. There are three possible stars up for grabs based on how well you complete the level. You need at least one to unlock the next. There are 40 in total, each spanning various cosmic environments. The base goal in each level is to “get bigger.” Your Chromaroid does this by attracting objects around it, which are attracted to it as a force of gravity. You can guide the blocks by dragging on them, and you can also move your ever-growing Chromaroid around by using a finger to drag it across space in search of coins and other blocks.

Power-ups keep you safe from incoming mines or different colored blocks

Power-ups keep you safe from incoming mines or differently-hued blocks

It all works nicely – especially at the beginning – but as the challenges ramp up it does have a tendency to get frustrating when a goal reads “Sustain no damage.” This is an almost impossible task, because the way the game is designed sees your block based in the center of the screen, with barely a gap between it and the vast unknown. This means that when you’re targeted by a mine, if it comes from the top or bottom, you’ve barely a split-second to react and swipe it away. Nobody’s brain is that fast. You will get a hint that a mine is coming through the sound, but, again, it’s no indication on what direction it’s coming in.

If you get hit, blocks will fall away

If you get hit, blocks will fall away

Elsewhere, there are some imaginative use of mechanics. One set of levels is deep within a cosmic storm, and all blocks are a deep purple, until a lightning strike brightens the sky enough to get a flash of the block’s true form. This requires a delicate juggling act in which you want to keep the blocks in the vicinity, awaiting a flash, but don’t want to let them get drawn to your central block lest they’re a different color. If they are and strike your block, it emits a sad little squeal of discomfort. It’s a weird dynamic; the brutality of space, and the delicate personality of your block. Poor guy.

There's a number of different stages – this one won't reveal the color of the incoming blocks until lightning strikes

There’s a number of different stages – this one won’t reveal the color of the incoming blocks until lightning strikes

Kudos goes to the developer for ensuring there are no ads of in-app purchases. This is a one-off payment, and it’s worth it. Despite frustrations in completing some goals due to the restrictive design, it’s still easy to progress simply by getting bigger each time. If you don’t get hung up on scoring a perfect level, it’s actually a remarkably relaxing experience.

Review: Evergrow – enchanting space-based gravity puzzle/shooter combo
A solid, unique puzzler with minor frustrations.
For
  • Unique gameplay
  • Great attention to design – inc. haptics
Against
  • Gameplay design falls down when so little of the screen is visible
4.0Overall Score