5.8

Mobile Game of the Week: Unmechanical (iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: <i>Unmechanical</i> (iOS)

This PC puzzler from 2012 has just arrived on iOS devices, and its nice graphics and smart puzzle design make the transition without any problems. The new control scheme almost bungles the whole operation, though, and makes me think Unmechanical is best left to the computer.

In Unmechanical I pilot a tiny robot that looks like a decaying apple as it flies like a helicopter through a series of mysterious, puzzle-filled mazes. The control scheme is similar to the classic point and click but with persistent motion and updated for touch-screens. I touch a spot and my little buddy floats continually in that direction until I lift my finger or until he runs into a wall. He’s slow to start, slow to stop and slow to change direction, though, making it hard to guide him as precisely as I’d like. It’s a poor substitute for a joypad or the WASD keys.

Puzzles range from simple memorization, like an early riff on Simon, to complex, multi-step exercises that string together every little trick learned up to that point. Because, you know, it’s a puzzle game, and that’s what puzzle games do. There are some genuine stumpers here, and I had to reset a couple of times when I mucked a puzzle up beyond repair. The game will challenge your brain in pleasurable ways.

Unfortunately the imprecise controls too often make the puzzles more complicated than they otherwise would be. Puzzles often ask me to lift objects with the robot’s tractor beam and drop them on top of a button or pressure plate to open a door. Not only is it hard to accurately aim the rock when you drop it onto the right spot, but the robot also slows down depending on how big the object is, reinforcing what’s already the game’s greatest source of frustration.

At least the game is pretty to look at it. My robot is adorable (even if he does look like spoiled fruit) and the 2.5D backgrounds are lush and vibrant. Too bad these good-looking spaces and clever puzzles are such a bummer to move around in.

Unmechanical
Developer: Talawa Games / Teotl Studios
Platforms: iOS
Release Date: 3/18/2013
Price: $2.99

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