Game Reviews

Drawn to Life

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| Drawn to Life
Drawn to Life
| Drawn to Life

My first attempt to create Gornbales does not go well. He ends up as nothing more than a smear of hovering red, almost invisible in Drawn to Life's cartoon world.

The second try works better. Gornbales is a tall, scrawny thing, a streak of gore dribbling from his grinning mouth. I like him, but he doesn't really fit in. He runs like his legs might break at any second.

Drawn to Life is a game of distinct chunks. Sometimes you're wandering around a Zelda-style village, talking to cat people and being told what to do.

Other times Gornbales and I jog around platforming levels, leaping around on lumps of scenery that I've drawn in the third slice of the game.

The problem is that these parts don't really fit together. The platforming is blighted by slippery controls, my fat human fingers can't sketch as well as a DS stylus, and nothing happens in the village that I don't want to skip.

Drawn out

There's a story rumbling around the game about a creator who made the world by drawing in the book of life. Inevitably the book gets nabbed and it's up to you, the creator of legend, to draw some stuff and get it back.

First you draw your hero. You don't have to call it Gornbales, but the bandy-legged beast I built suited the moniker perfectly.

There are pre-set templates you can add to, or just take as your own. Alternatively you can doodle a whole creation into the various boxes that act as the boundaries for your pen.

It's a pretty clumsy experience, though, and time consuming. Zoomed-out there's not enough room for detail, zoomed-in the strange way you control movement means you'll spend a lot of time erasing accidental swipes.

The whole thing is a hangover from the original DS game, and it runs through every aspect of this iOS port.

Drawn and quartered

You first notice it when you spot the D-pad and buttons hovering on the screen. They're replicas of the ones on the DS, and they act just like their physical counterparts. Which is to say they're not much cop on a touchscreen.

They're stationary, so missing the edge of the D-pad means you don't move, and it's easy to slide a finger off a button because there's no way of knowing where they start and finish when your digits are over them.

It's especially noticeable in the platforming sections. They rarely call for hardcore precision, but there are times you'll take a pounding from a foe because the D-pad didn't realise what you wanted to do.

The levels themselves are pretty standard platforming fare, albeit with the addition of drawing. Sometimes you'll have to fill in a platform, or scribble out a spring or a gun to aid you, but it feels more like a gimmick than something truly creative.

Drawn chorus

Drawn to Life is full of reasonably interesting ideas, but this iOS port fails to capture them successfully. The drawing is ragged, the controls sloppy, and the story sections can't fill the void the other parts suck out of the heart of the game.

There's still some fun to be had, but frustration and fumblings are never too far away. And that makes for an unedifying experience, as you wait for the next time the game is going to slip up.

Drawn to Life feels like it should be a great fit for iPad and iPhone, but in the end it's just been squashed in in a shape that too closely resembles its DS form, and that just doesn't work.

Drawn to Life

A port that exposes too many of the fragilities of the original, Drawn to Life is spread a little too thin to recommend
Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.