Whilst there's no shortage of charming retro titles on the App Store, few of them try anything different, focusing instead on being incredibly difficult and forcing you to make pixel-perfect jumps all of the time.
Astronot is different. Sure, it's still tough, but this is a game about exploration rather than reaction times. It's easy to get lost, but you're lost because you went out into the world looking for something, and that's the best kind of lost.
The game is a simple, 8-bit-style platformer. You control a space man stranded on an alien planet after his ship crashes, and you need to find a way to fix the shattered vehicle and get back home. Arrows at the bottom-left of the screen control your movement, and buttons on the right control your shooting and jumping.
You'll leap around the alien world, finding new paths and new abilities as you go. The game likes to play around with convention, so when you start out you'll head to the right, only to find an impassable wall.
Eventually you'll realise you need to head back the way you came, discovering a different route that grants you the jumping power-up you need to make it past the wall.
There's no map, no tutorial, and no explanation of the different artefacts and switches that you'll find around the world.
Brave old new world
It's an intriguing feeling, being thrown into the wild with no compass and no way to get your bearings, but it makes for a pretty exciting gaming experience. You're forced to remember where things are, and how to get back to them.
The esoteric nature of the game won't be to everyone's taste, and while the mechanics are remarkably easy to pick up there's a depth to proceedings that belies the simple graphics, and a level of challenge that's hidden behind the smooth platforming.Astronot is a great example of how a platformer doesn't have to be tied down in straight lines. This is a game that doesn't just encourage you to think for yourself, but forces you to. If that's the kind of challenge you're after, this comes highly recommended.