During the Middle Ages, the Catholic church sold indulgences like an ice cream peddler on a hot summer day. A few coins was all it took to avoid earthly punishment for your sins.

It's not so easy for first-person shooter Painkiller Purgatory. Whether you part with cash for the iPhone and iPod touch version or indulge the more expensive iPad edition, you still have to endure the punishment of a fundamentally flawed first-person shooter.

Awful controls, bland level design, and a general sense that it's behind the times make this a game not worth indulging.

Out of touch

The potential for a raucous shooter is here - rooms filled with grotesque demons are just begging to be ripped to shreds. Painkiller Purgatory stumbles from this simple premise toward gameplay riddled with flaws and devoid of fun.

Control is the chief complaint. Twin analogue sticks positioned in the lower corners enable you to move and adjust the camera, with a set of 'attack' buttons above the right analogue stick. It seems like a reasonable setup until you play the game and realise the controls aren't properly tuned.

Aside from the fact that adjusting the sensitivity of the sticks in the options menu has little impact on their performance, the analogue sticks behave oddly. Instead of moving as true analogue sticks, they're more like touch pads cemented in place. They're awkward and lead to disorienting movement.

Catalogue of sins

Incorporating contextual analogue sticks, a swipe-anywhere configuration, and tweaking the function of the sticks would be a big help, but there are other major problems that keep Painkiller Purgatory from being enjoyable.

Rudimentary level design has you clearing enemies one room at a time, the next space unlocking only after you've cleared the enemies in the room before it. Enemies are pretty dumb, too, often getting stuck on objects in the environment.

There's more: the non-existent story makes it impossible to know why you're doing what you're doing. There are few weapons in the game. No 'melee attack' function. It's possible to complete the game in under 20 minutes. The graphics are average.

Painkiller Purgatory is functional - I'll give it that - but so is the stocks app embedded in every iPhone and iPod touch. If you're looking for something fun to play, we'd be hard-pressed to recommend one over the other.