Developer: David Smit
Size: 301 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
In the future, mankind abandons a decaying Earth, leaving its robotic companions to eke out a meager living. That might sound like the plot of Pixar’s WALL-E, but it’s also the premise of a beautiful new iOS game from David Smit.
The second half of Still Here’s title tells you a lot about how the game plays. This is a Flight Adventure, pure and simple.
Nimble protagonist Pip shares a rocket-propelled movement system with many a mobile flier. You press the right side of the screen to fly up and right and the left side to go up and left, with a fast-recharging fuel meter forcing you to feather the throttle and make use of environmental boosts.
Despite this simple flier control system, the levels you’re required to move through are open (if compact) arenas that must be explored rather than raced through. You’ll soon find yourself running errands for eccentric automatons amidst broken down tech and resurgent flora.
Unfortunately, those errands invariably boil down to the same repetitive fetch quest. You scoot around each stage collecting a shopping list of knick-knacks for the robot at its center, hoovering up bonus flowers along the way.
That’s all there really is to Still Here’s gameplay. Fortunately, each stage subscribes to a different theme, and soon you’ll be required to flip switches and avoid hazards of various sorts. But the basic pattern of play remains constant throughout the game.
It’s also a little too easy to slip into an insta-death situation, thanks to the game’s busy art style and closely cropped view, which can undo several minutes worth of work in an instant.
Still Here’s major saving grace is its presentation. This is a quite stunning-looking game, with a dreamy art style that gives you super-detailed foreground furniture and characters, and stylishly defocused bokeh-effect backgrounds. It really is a pleasure to spend time in this world.
The game’s quirky AI characters are another highlight, spouting the kind of mundane-meets-crazy rambling that’s equal parts charming and heart-breaking. There isn’t a great deal in the way of satisfying exposition here, but the constant supply of vaguely suggestive one-liners paints a surprisingly powerful picture of a world gone to seed.
Meanwhile, the ability to unlock new playable characters and fresh costumes provide the usual incentive to explore every nook and cranny.
It’s just a shame that Still Here’s gameplay doesn’t live up to the freshness of its world-building. It’s a beautiful game that earns its ‘Flight Adventure’ billing, but that also tends to run through its repetitive routines like a discarded android helper stuck in a loop. It’s a compelling routine nonetheless, and guarantees entertainment – at least for a while.