Graviton is set in a future that is grim for mankind. Our enemy, the Xugg´zak, has devastated our largest cities. Left are you, a pilot of a Graviton ship, who have to collect energy spheres to rebuild our Earth. At least that is the story according to the page for Graviton in the App Store. In the game there is little to no story to be found.
To be honest I really don’t care that much about the lack of story as the game is really good. You are flying around caves dragging along an energy sphere. Time is of the essence, and there is a timer in the top right corner ticking down. You have to navigate narrow tunnels, through clockwork machinery and avoid hazards, such as fire and acid.
The Graviton ship is controlled by tilt, and it works really well. Touching the screen gives the ship a speed boost. You can drop the sphere you drag along by touching it. This is some of the best tilt controls I have encountered for the iPhone. When I die it is never because I couldn’t control it properly, but rather because I have been reckless. Dying is a part of the game, and you have a limited number of retries for each level. There are individual life bars, one for the Graviton ship and one for the sphere, found at the top of the screen. At most occasions I accidentally kill the sphere by dropping it of in acid or lava, wrong choice to make.
Each level starts with you following an arrow pointing to the sphere. Once you pick it up it is all a matter of surviving the obstacle course to the end. Puzzles come in different forms. At times you have to press big red buttons by slamming the Graviton into them to open a passage or shut of a laser. Some doors need the sphere to have a different colour to open, and once you find a source to change colour at you have to gently navigate to the door. A slight bump will remove the colour, and you have to go back to the source again. The laser beams forces the Graviton to drop the sphere, at those times you often have to find a cart to put the sphere on to let it travel separated from the Graviton. The puzzles are easy to figure out, and the hard part is executing your plan while precision flying with a timer counting down. Once I have completed a hard puzzle I feel really satisfied.
One problem I have found are that the five levels are quite long. It takes about ten minutes to complete each, and as the game doesn’t save mid-level I have had to replay levels a lot to complete them. More shorter levels or saved checkpoints would be preferred by me, and would suit the mobile gaming community better.
Despite it not having any story in-game I find it to be immersive and I have kept coming back to it to replay it at several occasions already.
Presentation & Graphics
Breathtaking backgrounds clearly depicting our planets demise. At times it feels like I am flying around in a painting that has come alive. The bulbous ship looks great, and has tons of character. The faster you go the more the game zooms out. That is a must to be able to plan your route as there are a lot of hazards and dead ends. The lava, fire and acid that is thrown at you feels realistic, and leaves steam as it evaporates.
Techno soundtrack that suits the game, and stress the hell out of me when I am running out of time. The sound of your ship is good, as well as all the sounds of machinery and vents spewing flames. When you hit the ground with your ship or the sphere you carry there is a clank that you soon want to avoid. Not because it is grating but because it sounds like the ship is actually hurting from the impact. A big downer is the fact that there is no way to turn of vibration; the game doesn’t respect the mute button either.
I am the first to say that I really prefer touch controls but in Graviton the tilt controls really work. Despite the time limit to each level gameplay is still more about precision than speed. Guiding your ship through narrow passages is easy with responsive controls such as these. I would like to be able to recalibrate once I have started a level as I tend to shift position in ten minutes of hard concentration. As it is now it calibrates when you choose to start a new game. My personal wish for a future upgrade is to have touch controls as well.
The satisfaction when I have dropped the sphere in a cart heading for disaster, and I manage to pick it up in the last second, is immense. Puzzles are a bit on the easy side, I would like more of them as well. When replaying the levels it just becomes a matter of doing a speed run through the game.
Three difficulty settings are available ramping up damage and speed of hazards. There are only five levels, which is a bit thin. If you unlock all five levels on easy you can select to play any of them on the harder difficulties as well. A level takes about ten minutes to complete giving you about an hour on easy/normal. Hard is really hard, and those prone to challenges will get good game value out of it. I want a balance between challenge and reward, and thus I rather replay the easier levels. There are also online high scores boosting game life.
From start to finish Graviton has high production values. I have some complaints about length of levels and control options/calibration that lowers the total score. At $1.99 though I can truly recommend it as it features fun and rewarding gameplay with spot on tilt controls.