I hate it when I have to write a negative review when I know there is a good game hidden inside somewhere. Denizen is a perfect example of this. It is a 3d on-rails shooter where you control Optimus Prime inspired Xio.
Xio is controlled by a responsive virtual joypad, and tapping and swiping do aiming. The controls are really well implemented, and Xio proves to be an agile robotic flyer. Sadly there is not much challenge to the game at all, and most of the times it feels like a casual relaxation application. Enemies come into view; I tap or swipe them, and avoid incoming slow moving enemy projectiles. There is no indication when I get hit, no flashing or anything beyond just having the health bars at the top removed.
There are no sound effects, not even for weapons fire. This makes the game feel barren, and the lack of explosions makes it hard to judge whether I hit or miss. The music is good though with some pounding in your face techno. Support for own music is also available. The graphical presentation is quite cool with a bright colorful cyberspace vibe. Xio lacks a lot of flair and details. The enemies are uninspired, and I never feel threatened by them.
I don’t really know what the game is about, and there is no clear level structure. The App Store page tells about rogue software, and in the game there are some computer references. Other than that the story isn’t really implemented into the game. You can choose among a few different levels to play in any order you want, and I can’t really feel any urgency in such a loose level structure. 15 levels with an end boss each sounds like quite a lengthy game. The main issue is that you will be bored far before the levels are completed. Not even global high scores and local achievements can save Denizen from the clutches of boredom.
Denizen is a confusing game blending cool music, great controls with lack of challenge, level structure and polish. I hope the developer can take Denizen as an opportunity to learn for future projects that all parts of a game need to work to make it a worthwhile endeavor.