The most important aspect of a puzzle game – apart, of course, from the brainteasers contained therein – are the controls. The very best iOS puzzlers understand the limitations of Apple’s machines and mould their mechanics around the strengths of the touchscreen as an input device.
By contrast, Cavorite feels like a game that would work better on just about any other platform. Not that its controls are complex – far from it – but the simple left, right, jump and spray buttons at the bottom of the screen somehow aren’t enough to cope with the finicky demands of the 60-something riddles here.
Then again, perhaps its problems run a little deeper. The issue here is never in figuring out the solution, but in carrying it out. Your character’s anaemic jump, the capricious gravity spray, the exigent nature of the puzzles – all seem to regularly conspire against you.Crustrating
That the game offers you an option to skip a stage after three failures (an irritant in itself) is not so much a generous way of letting players see all the content they’ve paid for as an admission that it’s too awkward by half.
Shame, as it creates quite the first impression. The presentation appears to have taken some tips from past Bitmap Bros. classics, with something about the title screen that instantly reminded me of The Chaos Engine.
Start the game and it’s more like Magic Pockets but with an old professor who looks not unlike a 16-bit Dickie Attenborough. Environments are a little on the dull side, but this could easily pass for a lost Amiga classic at first glance.Fave story
Your job is to pass through a series of single-screen levels, picking up items along the way to build a spaceship. Not every level has a ship piece – most do, but in the ones that don’t, you simply have to reach the exit.
Of course, getting there is rarely straightforward and involves you pushing and pulling blocks onto pressure-sensitive buttons to send moving platforms on their way or to shift obstacles in your path.
The twist to these familiar mechanics is in the Cavorite spray, an aerosol that makes blocks float upwards. The prof can grab hold of them should he need to ascend to a higher level, or cross a gap he would ordinarily be unable to jump.Clat as a pancake
The early stages riff on this idea nicely, before introducing enemies who can either hinder or help your progress. And yes, you can use blocks to squash them, and yes, there’s a satisfying squelch of green stuff as they’re crushed.
The puzzles themselves are reasonably clever, but unfortunately they’re more frustrating than fun to solve. Levels seem to be designed to regularly trap you without a way of extricating yourself, forcing regular restarts.
With tighter controls, this old-school design might be less of an issue, but the double-tap to latch onto a block as it rises only seems to work two out of three times, while jumping is an infuriatingly imprecise science.
Given the wealth of great puzzlers on iOS, Cavorite is tough to recommend. There’s definite promise here, but it’s mostly squandered on a game that’s just a little too exacting for its own good.