Spirits of Spring is the sort of game that doesn't come round very often. It's beautifully crafted, subtle, and lets you play at your own pace.
It's a puzzle game and an adventure wrapped into one, held together by a story about friendship and change in the lands of endless spring.
You control a young boy called Chiwatin, who can control forest spirits. When some terrifying crows start stealing the trees that keep winter at bay, it's up to you and Chiwatin's friends to save the day.
Cue a sedate adventure that takes you through frozen landscapes, solving puzzles as you try and figure out what's going on and what you can do to stop it.Cold spell
You control everything in the game with a single finger. Press on the screen and Chiwatin will move in that direction. You collect spirits from glowing flowers as you move through the environment.
These can be used to create bridges across water, to grab other, inaccessible spirits, and to take control of the animals that are along for the adventure with you.
Each of these has its own set of skills that you need to exploit to finish puzzles. The rabbit, for example, can scamper through holes to reach out of the way places, while the bear can swim in the sea.
Later in the game you'll gain different, more destructive powers as well. It's all tied together by the narrative that;s threaded through the experience.
It's as much about bullying as it is the end of spring, and it keeps you entertained throughout the pretty lengthy playtime.Bear with me
The whole presentation is brilliantly well put together, from the solid 3D game world to the cartoon-style cut scenes that break up the action.
The music and sound effects are worthy of particular praise, and are testament to just how much thought and effort has gone into Spirits of Spring.
But that's not to say that it doesn't have its problems. The pathfinding isn't great, and the simple controls mean that sometimes you'll get snagged on a lump of scenery and have to fiddle around to get past it.
Some might find the pace a little too sedate as well. And while the wintry colour scheme is impressive, it does tend to get a little samey after an hour or so.
But these are pretty minor niggles. Spirits of Spring might not have the pace of an action game, or the visceral nature of the more arcadey end of the App Store, but it does its own thing, and it does it remarkably well.
When it needs to be bright, it's bright, and when it needs to be dark it's almost pitch black. It's fun, engaging, and simple enough that almost anyone can play it without too much hassle.
It's not quite as substantial as it could be, but there's an interesting adventure here that's well worth seeking out.
It poses some intriguing questions, and while the gameplay can't quite match the polish elsewhere in the game, it's still a top notch experience.