Spiral Episode 1, an intriguing action-adventure title from Pixel Hero Games, is now available from the app store. Featuring a polished presentation, a genuinely interesting storyline, and a clever tap-based combat mechanic, Spiral Episode 1 is an entertaining offering that promises more to come.
Spiral Episode 1 Pros:
- Beautiful presentation, interesting storyline, and immersive combat sequences
- Animations are smooth and lip synched conversations add realism
- Intuitive tap controls for movement and fighting
- Experience allows you to improve character stats
- Survival arenas add replay value and impact regular campaign
- GameCenter integration for global leaderboards and achievements to earn
Spiral Episode 1 Cons:
- Tendency for taps to be misinterpreted, especially during battle
- Audio is a little lackluster
Set in the futuristic police-state of Soliel, you play as Tempus, a PI attempting to learn more about the conspiracy-heavy happening around him. You are particularly concerned with the Spiral virus that seems to be turning people into strange energy beings known as Entropies, as well as your own blackouts. You’ll have the opportunity to explore your immediate locations, collecting orbs, questioning characters, and battling groups of enemies bent on keeping Tempus from the truth. The story is broken into chapters and there are breaks in the action where Tempus gets real reflective, with confessional-type musings in which he ponders what is happening out loud. He also has a shape-shifting arm joined to an AI entity with whom he communicates. All conversations require taps to move the pacing along, which is a bit plodding and annoying when replaying sections of the game. A skip option would have been welcome. Movements and combat are one-touch affairs, requiring you to tap once for Tempus to walk to the target, tap twice to run, and tap on Tempus to stop him in his tracks. You can also tap-hold (or double tap-hold to run) on the screen to bring up a continuous movement option where Tempus will follow your finger until you release from the screen.
Combat works in a similar way, as you tap once on an enemy for a light attack or tap repeatedly to perform combos. Tap-holding on an enemy will fill a gauge that launches a charged heavy attack once the meter maxes out, and doing the same while holding on Tempus will unleash a knockback Blast attack. Double-tapping outside of the combat zone allows you to dash out of the way of an incoming attack. Your stamina bar, which appears in the upper left corner next to the health bar, will slowly deplete as you attack, so you’ll need to take breaks or rest from time to time to allow it to refill. The weapon used is automatically formed by your arm based upon your proximity to the targeted individual. You create a gun for ranged attacks, a long staff for mid-range attacks, and swords for those up-close-and-personal moments. Blocking occurs automatically whenever you are not attempting to engage in battle. Through the course of play, you earn XP that can be applied to a variety of stat categories that will enhance Tempus’ abilities and make him a more proficient fighter. While we found the combat entertaining and occasionally exciting, it was a bit clunky and easy to have inputs misread, a problem that doomed several battles and forced us to retry again and again. If you try to tap on a moving enemy for a light attack but miss, Tempus will try to walk to a spot near the enemy. Double-tapping to dash was often ineffective, as the input was either ignored or misinterpreted as an attempt to launch a heavy attack, leaving us vulnerable within the attack range of an enemy. The camera also doesn’t refocus its viewing angle fast enough, which was troublesome in the middle of a fight.
Graphically, Spiral has a polished aesthetic that feels a bit anime without conforming to those norms. The animations are smooth, the environments are vibrant, and the characters lips are synched to the voiceovers, offering a greater sense of realism. The soundtrack was enjoyable, though the audio felt a bit muted or quieter than it should be. Controls are decent when they work, but we did experience some frustration in certain spots. Earning new attacks and combining them with your defaults can be a lot of fun. When combos occur as you intend, it’s really exciting. Replay value is decent, though once you’ve been through the story, there isn’t much to improve upon. There is a survival Arena mode that sends wave after wave of baddies at you. You earn XP in this mode that can be used to bolster your stats within the main story. Your interest in reliving the initial experience will be the driving factor in replaying the game. GameCenter integration does provide global leaderboards for the Arena mode’s 4 different environments, as well as achievements to earn. iCloud also allows you to pick up your progress on different devices, though you should check which are supported before taking the plunge. A universal app for $4.99, Spiral Episode 1 is a 4-Dimple experience.
Spiral Episode 1 Review,