Have you ever tried to chase a sheep?
If you've ever indulged in a long walk through the countryside you'll know that, as soon as you get within a few feet of one of the fluffy blighters, they tend to wander off. In fact, the more incessantly you chase them, the quicker their little legs carry them away from you.
It's no doubt for this very reason that farmers employ sheep dogs, rather than spending their lives endlessly running around in circles like something from a Benny Hill sketch.
BeamOut taps into a similar idea of chasing that which can't be chased.
While the plot concerns a fallen UFO skimming over the surface of an alien planet in search of energy to repair itself, in actuality BeamOut plays out much like Labyrinth – the idea being to tilt your device (in default setting) to guide your ship around each top-down 2D stage.
This is no platform for aimless wandering, though. Each level tasks you with picking up a set number of items while the clock ticks away – initially yellow energy pellets, the moving to a mixture of different interactive items.
The faster you clear the board, the better the medal awarded at the end of the level.
Unfortunately, the levels have been designed in such a cluttered manner that makes this far from an easy ride. Getting your UFO trapped on level furniture - whether you're using the accelerometer or the slightly more dextrous virtual D-pad - is a common occurrence.
Trees, walls, and pigs all block your path at one point or another. The game also has a nasty habit of blocking your view, thus making getting yourself unstuck – all while losing vital seconds – more difficult than it needs to be.
A somewhat fairer challenge is chasing some of the moving targets, which, as you might have guessed, take the form of sheep in some of the early rounds. Most come with some form of reward, whether it's adding to your points tally, topping up your health or drawing you towards energy pellets like a magnet.
Hunting them down is part hilarious and part frustrating, given that they almost guess every move you make and weave their way in and out of trouble.Uncomplicated
As the levels build, so too does the complexity of the stages and the various bonuses on offer. Developer Under Clouds Games has cleverly layered the game with fresh challenges, from simple, inactive objects that sap your health on contact to full on shoot-'em-up style bosses that require dodging to survive their swarming bullets.
There's room for improvement, though. Early stages are, frankly, rather plain, and it's no great leap just to switch the device off once you've missed out on a coveted gold medal simply because you were unable to free your ship from a tree trunk.
It's a challenge that could do without the cute and cuddly sci-fi setting and would perhaps be better off in an equally stripped back environment. As it is, BeamOut is undoubtedly a solid affair, but isn't quite as out of this world as it thinks it is.