Epoch 2 is a scrappy game. From the chunks of rusty metal that litter the wastelands of its levels to the pitted and scarred armour you can equip your robot with, everything is beaten and worn to faded hues and sparking ruins.
It's scrappy to play, too, its interchange between dodge and blast never quite flowing quite as smoothly as you want it to. It's certainly a weightier proposition than the first Epoch game, but there's an inelegance to the gameplay that grates a little.
Not that there isn't fun to be had here. On an App Store seemingly obsessed with cramming buttons where they don't belong, Epoch 2's swipes and taps still feel fresh and interesting.
With a bit of smoothing here and there it could have been something special.Clanking
Once again you're taking control of the eponymous robot and laying waste to swathes of mechanical menaces to try and reinvigorate a princess who's in cryogenic stasis. Each level is cut up into little shooting-gallery slices. Clear the screen and you get a cutscene leading to the next.
Tapping a target focuses your fire, with the aiming and trigger-pulling all handled for you. You've got a rocket launcher on your back, a grenade or two in your pocket, and a special move that slows time. Those are on cooldowns, though, and need to be used sparingly.
Swiping a finger left or right dodges you in that direction, and swiping down ducks you behind the nearest lump of cover. Swipe down again and you'll reload, with a Gears of War-style active reload bar flashing up and letting you boost damage if you time a third down-swipe correctly.
An upwards swipe performs a more dramatic dodge, sometimes latching you on to scenery above you or triggering a hovering ability for a brief period. This is the most important move at your disposal, and you'll need to use it to avoid the worst damage.Robopocalypse
The levels are short and sharp, sometimes punctuated with boss battles, and always frantic towards the end when your life is low and there's a horde of metal between you and your goal. Each of them tells you at the start what weapon and armour combination is going to be best.
You need to purchase different weapons for different levels, and it's not always easy to bag enough cash beforehand to make sure you've got the right equipment. You can sell guns back at a fraction of the price, but you never know when you're going to need that damage type again.
Once you've completed a level you can replay it in one of two other modes. Time trial sees you killing against the clock, while Iron populates the levels with tougher, smarter enemies who are far more likely to kill you.
It adds some replay value to the game, but there's a lack of solid progression as you push through the regular campaign, compounded by the way you sometimes have to swap back to weaker weapons and armour to make the most of a situation.Epoch defined
And then there's the violence itself. It should be balletic and lightning fast, but sometimes it gets too clogged up and stodgy, leaving you dodging a hail of bullets that you were never going to be able to get away from, or popping away at an enemy too deeply entrenched in cover to draw out without wasting a special move.
Epoch 2 has learnt from some of the mistakes its predecessor made, but it hasn't really moved the template on much. There's still tinny fun to be had shooting your way through the game, but it feels like an opportunity missed.
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