Games don't have to be long to be spectacular - you only need look at the success of Monument Valley to understand that. Apollo: A Dream Odyssey sets out to do something similar to UsTwo's classic - but while it has plenty of ideas of its own, not all of them land with the same weight.

There are some neat puzzles here, but also some frustration and back-tracking. And when a game only lasts a couple of hours, those little moments where things fizzle in the wrong way are even more noticable.

That said, Apollo is still worth picking up. It's a rich game that uses your smartphone in some intriguing ways, and even when it does get a bit scratchy, you're never too far away from finding a solution.

Apollo's creed

You play the titular Apollo, who's running around a series of worlds to try and piece together her memory. Drag a finger around the bottom of the screen to move her, or move one around the top of the screen to re-angle the camera.

It's here that some of the annoyance creeps into the game. Often you need to move the camera to find the secrets you're looking for, but it's not as accurate as it needs to be. Sometimes the game takes control of it when something important happens, but other times it doesn't.

On the first level, when you're wandering around under a canopy of trees to find a magic blue ball that's surrounded by blue flowers, you're going to start getting annoyed. The ball's there, but spotting it feels like a bit of faff added to pad out the experience.

Apollo: A Dream Odyssey iOS screenshot - Solving a puzzle near the beach

That's not to say there aren't some really smart ideas here - a musical puzzle is a particular gem, and meeting the Maple Tree is brilliant once you figure out what you're supposed to be doing. And that's the thing about Apollo - it leaves you to find most things out for yourself.

In some areas that really works, but the cumbersome controls mean that sometimes you're not figuring out the puzzles, you're just trying to work out how to get over to them. Like I say, it's not the end of the world, but it's the little things like that which keep the game from greatness.

It is super short as well. A couple of hours, including the faff and the confusion, is all you're going to need to get to the end of this one. But the fact of the matter is you're going to push on to see what else the game has to offer - it doesn't outstay its welcome, and it manages to leave you wanting more as well.

A brief odyssey

Apollo: A Dream Odyssey shows flashes of greatness, and even when it's at its worst it's still worth sticking with. The whole experience is a mixture of moments that are memorable for the right idea, and moments that are memorable for the wrong ones.

The balance is just about skewed in the right direction though, and Apollo: A Dream Odyssey is a great first game from a studio that clearly has a lot of interesting things in its future.

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