Shardlands, an isometric maze game from Breach Entertainment, is now available from the app store. Featuring terrific graphics with dynamic lighting and simple puzzles, Shardlands is a short adventure with a lot of promise.
- Terrific graphic style, with dynamic lighting and enjoyable mazes
- Soundtrack and sound effects are appealing
- Controls are simple to use and intuitive, requiring simple taps to direct movement
- GameCenter integration provides an achievement system
- Not a lot of levels at launch
- Dispatching enemies is fairly passive, most obstacles are easily overcome
You control Dawn, a young woman who wakes in a strange world where floating stone pavers create maze-like walkways, patrolled at various points by strange monsters. Dawn must make her way through the game’s 20 levels, collecting blue orbs that will ultimately open a portal allowing her to move to the next level. Each level also contains a shard of a key that is to be used to activate an ancient machine for one reason or another. Dawn’s only protection is a number of beacons along her path that act as save points and are the only way to dispatch monsters chasing her down. The levels slowly introduce new elements like moveable platforms, crumbling floor sections, holographic floor elements controlled by keypads, floor vents that release fire bursts, oscillating fire balls, and much more. Levels aren’t too lengthy, though they can get pretty convoluted before long, requiring a good deal of backtracking. You are scored on each level by how quickly you reach the portal and whether or not you find the shard.
Graphically, Shardlands utilizes an isometric viewpoint and provides a gorgeous aesthetic. The animations are fluid and the dynamic lighting creates a bit of a mysterious air when moving through portions of the puzzle. The soundtrack has an equally impressive vibe, featuring warbling tunes that add to the mystery of the game. Controls simply require you to tap the location that you want to move to. A blue line creates a pathway from that spot to Dawn’s location, which she promptly follows. You can imagine the floor being broken into a series of smaller squares. Overshooting a precise spot can result in eating a fireball or suffering from some other malady at the hands of the level’s various obstacles, so while some areas allow you to set up lengthy tracks to follow, others require you to tap the right spots to manage the timing-based sections appropriately. It can be easy to miss your mark due to the high viewpoint and angled presentation, but it’s easy to correct by re-tapping, which will redraw your pathway. You can also pan with a fairly limited radius to see a short distance from Dawn’s location.
Replay value comes from trying to reduce your level time or find any shards you’ve missed, as well as snag a few GameCenter achievements. Otherwise, there are no bells or whistles to entice players to come back for more. We did experience some crashing issues on our iPod Touch 4th gen, though clearing the multi-task bar and restarting allowed us to access the game. We hope to see the crashing issues fixed and more levels added in the future. As it stands, there just isn’t a lot there other than the enjoyment derived from the initial playthrough. A universal app for $1.99, Shardlands is a fun 3.5-Dimple app.