How do you like your mobile games? This isn’t a segue into some terrible steak-based joke with a punchline that uses the word ‘rare’, but a genuine question about what type of games work best for you, the reader, when you pull out your mobile phone.
Glyder: Adventure Worlds (aka. Glyder 2 on iOS), on the other hand, is the direct opposite of instantly gratifying, almost wilfully refusing to bow down to the format’s pressures by offering up a deep and interesting experience more suited to a home console than a portable device.
The plot is perplexing, but essentially can be summed up by saying you’re a woman called Eryn, and you have to collect lots of gems and quests spread out over multiple islands via means of a hand glider.
It’s unlikely you’ll be thinking of collecting these gems or landing on these quest-giving platforms for the first 30 minutes though, as this time will be mainly distributed equally between crashing into the ground and stalling in mid-air.
In one of its few nods to real-life, Eryn’s hand glider doesn’t take too kindly to steep ascents unless there’s a hot air current wafting up from below.
It’s a feature that will eventually contribute to why Glyder is so absorbing to play - the nervous darts towards the next air current and the constant trade-off between speed and height adding considerable depth to proceedings. But it doesn’t make the introduction to the game any easier to cope with.
Soar like an eagle
Still, once you’ve got a handle on how to bank and steer your way around the snowy starting island, Glyder truly starts to spread its wings.
The levels, for instance, aren’t just separate little worlds, but all interconnected locations within one environment.
That island shrouded by fog in the distance, for instance, can be flown to given enough speed and height. Similarly, the impossible looking mountain peak curving high into the clouds can be reached should you find the right air currents.
Each island is jam-packed with challenges, races, items, and hidden objects, but Glyder doesn’t ever force you to seek them out.
Even with a detailed 3D map available of each location, you’re more likely just to accidentally stumble across something new than to plot out a predefined route.
Combined with the delightful graphics and sharp controls, it creates a massive contradiction - a game both directionless and yet packed with things to aim for.
It won’t be to everyones taste, but if you want a mobile game that has a sense of place and world, that rewards exploration and cares little for conventional wisdom (such as ‘tutorials are handy’, or ‘always include guns’), then Glyder: Adventure Worlds will come across as a rare treat.