Inferno ($0.99) by emobix might be good, but its controls prevent me from fully knowing. To summarise the game with too many adjectives, the retro-styled top-down sci-fi arcade shooter is about an on-rails fire extinguishing ship thing. When the app began, it told me a bland back story in a too-small-to-read font, but it wasn’t worth remembering. All that you need to know is that in the game you navigate a ship around levels, trying to find and extinguish all of the ‘fire’ tiles by driving over them. Droids, travelling along set paths on the rails, try to stop you by bumping into you and reducing your health. Gun turrets shoot at you, and beams zap you unless you obtain the correctly coloured key card to turn them off with. You get two lives per level; lose them or run out of time and it’s game over. If you manage to locate and put out all of the fire in a level, you open the exit transporter. You need to get to the transporter, and you’ll be magically zapped to the next level.
The problem is, the game expects that you can control your ship properly. It gives you a joystick to do this with, but it’s not responsive enough, making the controls feel very loose. Turning corners is a pain. The ship travels quite quickly, so you need to be able to control it quickly, but the game doesn’t make that very easy. This problem isn’t so big that it makes the game unplayable, but it is incredibly irritating. I hope that in the future the game receives several, much tighter, control options.
Control issues aside, Inferno contains the building blocks for an enjoyable game. Its mechanic is quite fun, and it contains enough content to last for around one and a half to two hours (unless you complete every level first time). Its retro graphics are a little crowded, but otherwise work well. The audio is average. Strangely, the game’s music sounds quite happy – a tone that doesn’t really fit with a pressure-building sci-fi shooter.
There are a few other issues with the game. The only way to know the layout of a level is by remembering where you’ve been and what it looked like. There’s no small radar or other map to help you find your way around. That means that if you miss even a tiny bit of fire in a level, you’ll have to spend a long time locating it and putting it out – it’s not fun, and slows the pace of the game. There are also a ridiculous number of pick-up items littering the levels – so many that it becomes hard to know which pick-up does what, if anything. Sometimes picking up the right item is the difference between completing a level in time and being destroyed.
Overall, Inferno is let down by its loose controls, which make the game more irritating than enjoyable. The precision that the game requires is just too hard to maintain, and it gets in the way of the experience.