It's always nice to find a game that does things a bit differently, and Darklings certainly does that. It's a scribbly action game that sees you doodling a variety of symbols onto the screen to fight back various gloomy figures.
These beasts wear their own defeat front and centre, showing you exactly the symbol to trace to vanquish them.
Kill one and you inhabit it for a little while, before it bursts in a shower of stars. You need to grab these stars to fill up your time and your fever meter.Dark star
The controls are simple Simon Says swipes. See a monster, trace its mark onto the screen. You need to be pretty precise, but there's enough leeway that you'll only occasionally find your scribbles not registering.
Things get frantic pretty quickly as well, because a single touch from any of your foes will kill you. The stark black and white world looks lovely, and the creature designs are gruesome and cute in all the right ways.
You can equip various powers and buffs by spending some of the stars you collect, but they don't really affect the shape of the game. Boss battles do, though. You're still scrawling out shapes and symbols, but you need to follow strict patterns and orders or it's back to the start of the level.
It's here that the game both shines and falters. The timing on some of the boss fights is too stern, leaving you helplessly scratching at the screen well after you've died. But when things go right they show an ingenuity and malleability that the core of the levels sometimes lacks.Dark matter
Darklings is an intriguing game, then, and it's one that deserves some attention. It's not perfect, but its mix of side-scrolling plasmatic brawling and finger-swirling touchscreen manipulation can be pretty addictive.
It's not without niggles, but they're usually quickly overcome, and the feeling of freshness here lasts long after most other quick-fire arcade titles lose their sheen.
Throw in an impressive look and a swathe of challenges that keep you on your toes and you're left with a unique title that's well worth picking up.