If there’s one thing that the app store has in abundance, it’s golden stars. The kind that school teachers give to their pupils, or dentists give to nervous children. But somehow, app store stars don’t feel patronising. They’re just a friendly pat on the back after a challenge has been conquered. No game demonstrates this better than Gravity Lab! ($0.99) by Mobile Snap. Its 75 puzzling levels each contain three stars, two of which are normally fairly easy to access whilst the third can be teeth-grindingly hard to earn. And for each star that you gain, your satisfaction increases two-fold and your day brightens just that little bit more.
The game has you launching a robot at stacks of small cubes. You need to make the blocks fall into as many of the stars in a level as possible (hitting stars with the robot sends it flying from the screen). The only problem is, gravity’s forgotten its limitations. Differently coloured blocks fall in different directions, whilst the robot itself isn’t affected by gravity at all. As the game progresses, gameplay-enhancing obstacles are introduced. Gravity zones change the direction that a block falls in – so if it’s falling to the left and touches any part of a zone with arrows to the right, it’ll start falling to the right instead. You can also vary the course of your robot with these zones. Springs, portals and exploding blocks also make an appearance in the app.
Gravity Lab! looks brilliant. It employs a bright, sparkling visual style and manages to handle lots of moving objects with ease. The game physics feel realistic, so you won’t have the excuse of losing a level because blocks floated rather than fell. Bizarrely, the app doesn’t come with a soundtrack – just sound effects – so if you want to listen to music while playing, you’ll have to supply your own.
Another minor issue with the game is in the control area. To launch the robot, you touch where you want it to go on the screen. The further that your finger is from the robot, the more powerfully it will launch. Although these controls work well, they do make it difficult to launch the robot with a small amount of power – your finger can often block your view of where you’re aiming the robot. Another small detail that frustrated me was the laziness of the game’s achievements. Although the game does congratulate you for completing goals through achievements, there are only 5 – two for completing the app’s second and third worlds, and three for getting all of the stars in each of the three game worlds. These achievements are unimaginative and add very little to the longevity of the game.
Overall, Gravity Lab! is a gorgeous physics puzzler that’ll keep you hooked for at least one to two hours, longer if you hope to gain three stars on every level. Despite a few tiny faults, the app excels at providing an entertaining experience. It’s definitely worth a purchase.