Beards & Beaks

Pocket Gamer likes a bit of the peculiar every now and again.

Beards & Beaks is so weird that it could easily have been dreamt up during one of our weekly sugar-fuelled office thought showers.

But, despite ticking all the right boxes when it comes to being generally bizarre, the Windows Phone exclusive Beards & Beaks contains very little else of note.

Quack attack

At the beginning, play revolves around hunting gems. You control what appear to be a number of bearded gnomes, which you flick into play with your finger.

Early levels involve directing them towards a series of jewels dotted around the stage before your enemy – for reasons that are never made clear, a pack of ducks – can steal them for their own quackers designs. But sending them on their way is not easy.

Your beardy men like to bob along at their own pace, trundling in any direction of their choosing if left unaided. On occasion, this can actually help your cause: some characters, for instance, will chuck missiles at any foes in range, helping protect the rest of the pack from attack.

Stroke and go

In response, your sole input is to prod and poke your population in the right direction with the odd finger stroke on their head.

For example, you can either direct them towards the gems in question, or right into the path of your rival ducks, at which point they'll immediately fight to the death.

Pick up enough gems and drop them off at your base before the enemy (the bigger the gem, the more carriers it needs for speedy recovery), and it's job done.

If that seems like a simple and fairly manageable concept, things soon get more complicated. Later levels throw out the whole idea of gem hunting altogether, though your handle on your gang of gnomes remains in check.

Oddly empty

Said battles include simply surviving long enough to see the clock run down, and clearing the level of every last duck – neither of which adds anything of note to Beards & Beaks's structure.

That's because, as is the case with Lego, all instructions here are delivered in pictorial form – often unclear, and rather over-stylised pictures that offer very little in the way of information.

Even when all goals are certain and everything is on track, it's hard to work out what the point is. On the surface, Beards & Beaks is all character and cutesy charm, but underneath it's a rather sparse affair that plods along without actually going anywhere.

Beards & Beaks is best described as a time-waster, with its queer and quaint dressing boiling away to nothing as soon as play even threatens to heat up.

Beards & Beaks

Harmless, but equally pointless, Beards & Beaks promises much in terms of style, but is found wanting when play gets going