Gene Effect looks beautiful, but is exploring their vibrant world actually fun?
A huge part of making your game stand out from the crowd is making it look good. The app store is a crowded place, and if your screenshots can capture the interest of an audience, it can make a huge difference in the amount of people who actually give a game a second look. After all, selling more copies is the name of the game for developers.
Good-looking graphics might get people in the door, but the game has to be fun to keep people interested in playing for the long haul. In addition, people are not going to go out and recommend a game to their friends just because it has nice looking visuals.
I can safely say that Gene Effect nails the visuals . . . for the most part. The art style in the game is stunning, and the world is bright and colorful. It really makes strong use of the power of the newer iOS devices, and exploring the world is a visual joy.
The one problem I do have with the visuals is that it can be too dark in spots, making it very hard to see where you are going. I assume this is by design, to give you a sense of being lost in a cave, but I found it more annoying than anything. It also seems odd that they clearly spent a ton of time on the art design of the game, and much of it is lost in the darkness. In a way, it almost makes you appreciate the visuals more when it is not dark, so if that was their goal, it most certainly worked.
In addition to stellar visuals, the audio design of the game is top-notch. It has a really chill soundtrack that matches perfectly with the pacing of the game. The sound effects are enjoyable and they never become repetitive.
We have established that this is a fantastic looking and sounding game and that is great, but the key thing to remember is that this is a game, and an important part of a game is being fun. So that begs the question: is Gene Effect fun? I really did not think so. I appreciate what they were trying to do with the gameplay, but I found it boring.
Basically, you are flying your ship around the caves of Kratoss trying to gather resources and avoid obstacles that will damage your ship. You control the ship with a virtual joystick. The control method works well, and I never had a problem moving throughout the world. Realistically, I would not be able to tell you if it is because the controls are accurate, or because you move so slowly. Everything is very methodic, including the way you navigate the world.
This game suffers from an extreme lack of action. I am not saying that every game has to have insane, non-stop action, but I need a little more to keep my interest. This game is similar to Waking Mars, and that game did a much better job of maintaining their relaxed atmosphere while still keeping me engaged and excited in the gameplay.
They also missed a huge opportunity to grab the players’ attention with their story. It is actually a well-done story, but it all told through giant walls of text. When the game itself is not all that engaging, a more engaging story would have helped to keep my interest, but telling the story through reading is not a good way to keep the excitement going when the game is already slow-paced.
Of course, there are some action bits, and when they happen, they are actually fun and intense. Your ship is not built for combat, so when you are forced to deal with hostiles it can be exhilarating. You are in a slow and clunky mining ship, with only two weapons, one of which is barely a weapon at all. Your attacks take a while to charge, and this can make things pretty exciting.
You will find your more powerful weapon, the T-Drones, are in very short supply, and your repulsor is not the strongest of weapons. You have to be careful in the way you approach a potential hostile situation, and I actually found the methodical approach of the game added to these parts.
The levels in the game are quite large, and there are plenty of levels to keep you busy for a while. Obviously, it will come down whether you enjoy the game enough to bother. Personally, this is not the game for me, but it most definitely has some fantastic qualities for anyone looking for a game that is a little more laid back and not so intense. Gene Effect is a solid package; you just need to make sure your expectations are in the right place before you jump in.
Gene Effect is available now. Get in on the App Store.