An original puzzle game with interesting mechanics and a solid presentation. Monotony, however, throws a wrench into the works.
The idea behind I of the Global Game Jam 2012 in Hilversum. Under the name of Xtra, four programmers are working on a game with the theme ouroboros: a snake that eats its own tail. The end result impressed developer Gamious so much that the company, along with Xtra, developed and marketed the game. The original idea was largely preserved during this process, but with a more eye-catching presentation. The result is an exciting game, but it has problems.
Members of the Animals group are allowed to breathe calmly, as ouroboros no longer roll above the level. In iO, the reptile gives way to a ball that changes size on command. This mechanic is the essence of the game and helps you solve the platform puzzles between you and the green portal on each level. A large ball rolls faster on a hill, but flies with the speed and elegance of a fattened laying hen, while a small ball climbs faster and reaches more height and distance. The physical elements of the game are perfect and each situation is a test of your inner Isaac Newton.
Anyone who thinks of that sterile physics room at Newton High School can breathe easy: iO has a vibrant color palette. Different shades pop off your screen and the sleek design with simple shapes such as rectangles gives it a clear impression. In combination with music that doesn’t come to the fore unnecessarily, the game is a welcome guest on your screen.
Physics and a colorful presentation give the game its own face, but the controls sometimes throw a wrench into the works. On a controller, the ball rolls with the joystick, D-pad, or triggers. The last two options give the least control over your speed, but the joystick leads to what’s known as the sound effect. In puzzles where loops play a role, you tend to move your stick with the ball, so to speak. The IO commands don’t recognize it, so you suddenly stop in the middle of the loop and fall a second later.
While the combination of momentum and judgment makes each puzzle slightly different, it is doubtful that you will reach the end point. On the one hand, the difficulty of the first 100 levels increases steadily, but on the other hand, the following levels rise in challenge very quickly. In addition, the game is repeated in this phase. All the puzzles contain variations of what was presented to you previously, so after about three hours you feel like you once did. It almost removes the point of continuing.
This doesn’t mean that iO doesn’t have good ideas. On the contrary, the game does its best to introduce new puzzle elements step by step. For example, at different levels you will learn how the ball rolls on a straight wall and what the effect of artificial gravity is. A big plus is that all 225 levels are available from the start. Is a level too difficult? Then you just start the following in seconds. The original 150 levels have increasing difficulty and for true professionals there are 75 Irresisteball levels. This collection contains the most complicated puzzles in the game and demand the most from your inner physicist.
iO is an interesting puzzle platform game. The game stays true to the essence of the original idea and combines a simple concept with original gameplay. Raising and lowering the ball to solve puzzles gives a new dimension to each level. Over time, however, the novelty fades and the game repeats itself. The difficulty level also increases too quickly after a while. The elegant design and the excellent presentation ultimately make it a great puzzle in the Netherlands.
iO is available for Android, iPad, iPhone, OUYA, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows Phone, and Xbox One.