Game Reviews

Power Grounds

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| Power Grounds
Power Grounds
| Power Grounds

With just a sliver of health remaining, you step through the portal to the next level, hoping against hope that the gaming gods will be kind to you.

They aren't. You die.

Many a player of Ending or Hoplite will have found themselves praying for a favourable level layout or enemy formation - for some miraculous escape route to be presented so that you can survive another minute in these turn-based meat grinders.

Power Grounds, the latest iPhone roguelike puzzler, is rarely so forgiving. But it does provide its fair share of miraculous escapes.

Colourful Ending

Power Grounds plays a bit like a cross between those two games referenced above. The goal is the same - to edge your hero to the level exit, one grid space at a time.

Each time you swipe to move your character, randomly arranged enemy formations will take a step towards you. Or at least, some of them will. Their movement and attack habits vary.

Your hero is a fragile thing, capable of shunting an enemy out of the way and not a lot else - and only at the expense of one of your three hearts.

It's tough going, but the game's core twist is a colourful one.

Powering through

Throughout each compact stage, you'll find power-ups. When collected, they'll activate several coloured power-up squares. Whenever you stand on one of these, you'll be able to cast a one-off spell that grants some advantageous effect.

There's one that sends out fireballs in three directions, one that allows you to charge through multiple enemies, one that raises a temporary shield, one that teleports you across the level, and several more besides.

It's the unique provision of these power-up squares that lends Power Grounds its distinctive flavour, but they also highlight its weakness. Their random assignation can either empower you to blitz a level or leave you high and dry.

Dying on a level often feels unavoidable, with the random level design and enemy configuration frequently combining with an unfavourable power-up spread to give you a hiding.

Quick and not-so-easy

Still, the quick nature of each doomed run will have you reaching for that 'restart' button more often than not.

The additional wave-based Arena mode is another incentive to return to the game, taking the whole idea of flight out of the equation and sharpening your crowd control skills.

Power Grounds is a welcome addition to the growing roguelike puzzler crowd, though its random acts of cruelty stop it from being one of the very best.

Power Grounds

Power Grounds adds an interesting power-up twist to the roguelike formula that excites and frustrates in almost equal measure