Escape From Cyborgia – 2.99 (Manic Dreamers)

We mentioned in an earlier review that the iDevices, with their option for tilting controls, have opened up another little world for game development and genre expansion. Here we have another example of a genre expanded by these tilt controls, ball rollers. Escape From Cyborgia is a new addition the genre, developed by Maniac Dreamers.

First off, the graphics, like most other great ball rollers, are very immersive, drawing you into the dark world full of hazards and obstacles. The animations for all the moving objects, liquids, steams, and fires in throughout the game are also done very nicely. Coupled with the awesome music, great physics, and ability to tilt the camera by swiping on the screen you can see the levels from different angles, the developers have created an amazing atmosphere, making Escape From Cyborgia a game that you’ll experience just as much as you’ll play. There is also a story that is accessible from the main menu, which does add to the experience and feel of the game if you decide to take the time to read it. It’s pretty interesting finding out why you’re trying to “escape from Cyborgia.”
To make it through each of the 30 levels, you will need to guide your mechanical orb through the maze of paths, hitting switches that allow access to new areas, and collecting green, red, and blue orbs that give you points. These points can be used to slow down the timer or plant new checkpoints. You don’t need to plant checkpoints, but if you want to make it through the levels in a timely matter, it’s a good idea. Sometimes the orbs need to be collected by pushing crates or barrels over edges into the orbs, which counts towards your collected points as if you had run into the orb yourself. With this feature, the developers were able to make collecting all of the orbs a task that generally only the better players will be able to do, by placing some on the ground floor, which you are not able to touch without dying, in fire, at the bottom of holes in the floors, or behind other hazards, only accessible by finding the right switch, or moving a crate or barrel to the area, and dropping it on the orb.
You do not need to collect all of the orbs in order to finish the levels, but you will need to open up pathways by clicking on certain switches, which does require quite a bit of backtracking. The level design is extremely well thought out, giving players the opportunity to either spend more time in a level, and gain more points, but also run the risk of dying more, or let players try and speed roll through each of the levels, making it through as fast as they can, gaining a higher star ranking in the level.
The controls and UI in Escape From Cyborgia are very tight, and nicely laid out. You can adjust the calibration at any time in the main, or pause menus, as well as the tilt sensitivity. There are 3 buttons on the bottom right, and 3 on the bottom left corners of the screen. On the left, you can pause, go back to your last planted checkpoint, or reset your checkpoint to the beginning of the level. On the right, you can slow down the timer, requiring 1,500 points, set a new checkpoint, requiring 1,000 points, or enter the birds eye view of the level, which you are able to zoom in and out of as well as swipe and scroll around in. You can also swipe the screen at any point while playing the game to tilt the camera at a different angle, seeing if the pathways are slanted up or down, or maybe see if a path is accessible by seeing the set-up at a different angle.
For Maniac Dreamers first iOS release, Escape From Cyborgia is a very immersive addition to the ball roller genre. The only cons I can see is that there is no online integration, so there’s less drive to go back and replay levels with the hopes of bettering your score or ranking. Also, the level select screen always starts on level 0, so you will always need to scroll through the levels to find the one you last completed. There are also some sections on the paths, in the first couple levels, that have slight tilts on them. These slight tilts are almost impossible to see, even while tilting the camera. To make it over these slanted areas, players will need to tilt their devices to a pretty uncomfortable position. When you finally do make it past the slanted area, your ball will almost always go flying across the path. This isn’t too big of a deal, because the levels that do have these slants are only in the beginning, and there’s guard-rails on the path-ways, so you will not fling your ball onto the floor or into the green goo, but it is kind of strange that these sections only appear in the beginning of the game, and that more was not done to make them visible. Aside from that, which really isn’t anything to seriously complain about, and nothing that could not be fixed in an update, Escape From Cyborgia is a very well made, with skillfully thought out levels and textures. $2.99 for this Universal game is a solid price.
Escape From Cyborgia gets a score of 8 out of 10.

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