This platformer has been a success on the Android Market since its release late last year, and now it’s finally on iOS. Arriving on the App Store second is not the usual way of things, and, indeed, this auto-runner doesn’t always go by the book.
The setup is fairly standard, however. A princess has been kidnapped, and you’re the poor sap sent out to rescue her.
This rudimentary plotline is described in a deliberately anachronistic message from a malevolent foe written in leetspeak – it’s mildly amusing, but it’s been done several times before elsewhere, and to greater effect.
Keep on running
As the eponymous clockwork hero, you sprint through areas displayed in a curious 2.5D perspective presumably intended to prove that not all auto-runners need to be flat side-scrollers. Sadly, this proof comes at the expense of the clarity of the platforming.
You’ll leap around ramparts, across bridges, and over holes, avoiding spikes and other traps while swinging your sword to smack enemy creatures over the head.
It’s fairly attractive, though the unusual viewpoint can - perhaps deliberately - hide the coins or secret cards that are crucial to earning a good rank when you reach the finish line. Early levels are fairly simple, though after a while you’ll be cursing the perspective as it can make some jumps artificially difficult to judge.
This wouldn’t be an issue on its own, but as there are no checkpoints a single mistake sends you right back to the start.
It isn’t an instant restart, either – you need to sit through a few seconds of loading time and then press the ‘play’ button to start again.
This only gets more annoying as you progress, not least because each time the game proffers a ‘hint’ that amounts to nothing more than promotion of an in-app purchase to make life easier.
To make matters worse, you’re punished for exploration or any attempts at inventive play. Choose to jump over an enemy rather than hit it and you’ll die – even if your leap should be able to clear it.
Should you take time to visit a hidden area with a secret card, meanwhile, you’ll often find yourself wound up – because unless you pick up the keys that keep your knight ticking over, he’ll grind to a halt.
Eventually, it becomes less of a reaction-based challenge and more of a memory test, as the obstacles get tougher and more plentiful and mistakes become more frequent.
Fall just before reaching the finish line and you’re more likely to throw your iOS device of choice across the room than hit the 'restart' button.
Meanwhile, the shop’s prices will only suit those prepared to shell out real money or to grind endlessly. It may take 20 attempts at a level to earn enough for the most basic of power-ups.
Wind-Up Knight is a solid idea, it’s reasonably attractive, and, after about an hour, it’s almost no fun to play whatsoever. For easily-pleased masochists only.