iO – A Physics Platformer is an incredibly fun game for iOS (iPhone, iPad). Right of the bat, it was clear that this title from BluBox and Gamious was both graphically and mechanically impressive. Created during one of the any Global Game Jams, iO is an iOS game that requires the user to think differently than they normally would as they alter the physical dimensions of a ball.
Set up like a traditional iPhone game, iO – A Physics Platformer has multiple levels to choose from and score tiers on each level, based on time. After a short tutorial, it was pretty clear how to play, but that didn’t make it easy. iO has a simple 4 button control system: left, right, grow, shrink. Each level is built with these controls in mind, and there are various parts where you must change size, direction and speed on the fly. I picked up on this concept early, but have yet to master it.
In iO – A Physics Platformer, changing the size of the ball also changes the physics and properties of it. In shrinking or growing the balls, mass and velocity change. Understanding the basics of this system are a breeze, but understanding the implications of a change in mass is too complex to fathom. With that factor in play, I was able to throw the ball up higher walls than it should have been able to climb, launch across gaps that were too far to cross, and achieve new high and low speeds. It quickly becomes difficult to keep up with all the implied capabilities you have and all of the obstacles you must overcome.
The game developers chose to go with a simplistic “Tron” techno style, which matches well. If there were to be a sentient, physics altering moving ball, it may as well be high-tech. It’s obvious that a lot of work went into polishing this title since its initial conception during the game jam. Details, like the ball’s multiple destruction animations after losing, make iO all the more vibrant.
As it stands, no game is perfect. iO suffers from overly-high medal scores and difficulty spikes. As in most iPad games, I didn’t achieve a gold medal on the first try (except on a few levels), but there were many times where I could not even achieve the bronze (lowest) medal. The distance between levels is too short, and some levels seemed impossible as time went on. If, like me, you decide to play the “tutorial level pack,” you will find a lot of similarities in the Level 1 pack. In fact, almost the entirety of the tutorial level pack has been integrated into the first level pack, making it quite redundant. At this point, I’m slightly annoyed that I essentially played a tutorial twice.
Overall though, iO – A Physics Platformer is a stunning little mobile game for $2.99. It’s a stylish, polished physics experiment that tests the mental ability to solve puzzles by doing what is impossible. Changing the physical characteristics of a ball may be impossible, but iO sure makes me want to do it.