Game

A triumph in design, but does the gameplay live up to this benchmark?

Price: $2.99 / £2.29
Version: 1.0
Size: 153 MB
Developer: Semidome
Platform: iPhone & iPad

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iOS games are so frequently all about the dash, the crash, and the brash, but in this latest puzzler, smartphone gamers are given the opportunity to relax. Nightgate is an intriguing vector-styled arcade title that soothes with its 80s revival synth-wave soundtrack and pleasant floating dots.

This is the situation: It’s the middle-distant future, and the only life form remaining on earth following a great war is a network of intelligent computers known as Nightgate. Or so the story goes. Thankfully, it’s only back story and we don’t have to spend much time worrying about the philosophical implications of considering whether a network of computers could be considered ‘life’. In the actual game, you control a small white dot with one on-screen joystick. The objective is to touch any colored dots with a circle around them that are on the ‘board’. Touching them will make the circle dissipate, and once you’ve got them all an orange orb will appear to guide you to the next section.

The environments look incredible and the whole experience is incredible fluid

The environments look incredible and the whole experience is incredible fluid

The levels themselves are as fluid as your floaty orb, often requiring you to drift off the lines, and the squares to reach the circled dots. However, it’s not that simple. Along the way, there’s a series of red dots and lines that attempt to strike out at you. Get hit, and you have to restart.

Nightgate is a triumph in design. It’s simplistic, and flat one minute, but the next the focus pulls and your next location is behind the current level and all of a sudden you’re experiencing a faux-3D environment. Remember that scene in Interstellar where Matthew McConaughey goes through the black hole? It’s not a too dissimilar an experience. Just far less terrifying. Or for a more anti-contemporary reference, think Tron.

Essentially, avoid anything red

Essentially, avoid anything red

However, once you’ve played through a handful of levels and marveled at the delightful graphics and aural beauty, the game begins to get a bit laborious. The levels are relatively easy and it takes a long time to get anywhere near approaching a challenge, while the levels and the various orbs become static in their visual intrigue. Sometimes new mechanics are introduced, such as connecting lines together, or knocking objects into other while being chased by red orbs, but it’s not long before it reverts to the classic dots and circles scenario.

Your orb will move endlessly, you just have to control its direction

Your orb will move endlessly, you just have to control its direction

There’s a decent number of levels – 50 in total – and it’s a joy to play – certainly a title any iOS user would be able to pick up and traverse. But ultimately, it’s let down by a great concept not quite executed to its full potential. Nightgate is certainly enjoyable, but becomes bland far too quickly.

Review: Nightgate – explore a futuristic, digital world in new minimalist arcade experience
Starts great, falls fast
For
  • Design is something to behold
  • Soundtrack is a delight
  • Relatively unique
Against
  • Not challenging enough
  • Lack of development over the levels
3.3Overall Score