Sometimes people do things that aren’t fun. We go to work, we get root canals, and the individuals with the most self-hate play gravity well.
Before I continue on my rant, let me explain the good parts of gravity well. The game has a decent menu system and selecting what hellish level you would like to play on is a breeze. Additionally, a portion of the game’s proceeds will be given to charity, although this amount is not disclosed. Even if it is two cents per sale, this move does raise awareness for worthy causes. Also note that I have given the game to friends and family (a mix of gamers and non-gamers) all of whom did not enjoy the game, and all of whom experienced at least two glitches.
Gravity well was very difficult to review, I am used to finding at least some basic level of fun in a game. Having found none in gravity well I was shocked. I made sure to beat the game, and then play through part of it again the next day. The game just feels like a chore.
The creators of gravity well describe it as a mixture between pinball and minigolf. As many fourth graders that have made hamburger and pizza smoothies know, mixing two awesome things together is not always the best thing to do. Besides, the traces of these two decidedly fun games are difficult to find in gravity well. Your objective is to get the ball to a certain area of the screen by applying a force to it with a “gravity well”. Hindering your progress are various objects, all of which will sap away at your ball’s health points.
For a game so dependant on physics, gravity well’s physics system is decidedly unsatisfactory. This part of the review may sound a little pretentious, so suffice it to say that the physics in this game are frustrating. To move the ball, one essentially creates a super massive object that has all of its mass concentrated in a very small volume, this object applies a pulling force on the ball and the ball the same force on it. Where the odd part comes in, is that many times after removing this object from the field (and assumedly the force along with it) the ball will fly off in some tangential direction despite the fact that it was previously traveling in a straight line. The ball has no force applied in that direction, it is not near one of the game’s magnet objects, it should have only accelerations due to gravity (downward) and friction, and yet it changes its path. This annoyance leads to many a failure.
What I just described is the equivalent of putting no spin on a bowling ball, watching it roll straight for the first pin, and at the last minute the ball just decides to fling itself into the gutter and roll uphill towards you. The only reason for the long-winded explanation is to fully illustrate how ludicrous and magnificently frustrating the physics can be.
Controlling the ball is as simple as placing gravity wells, but the game does not allow you to place wells wherever you may please. One may only have one well on the field at any given moment, so it becomes frustrating when a placed well somehow decides not to disappear when you have tried so valiantly to place your well elsewhere.
When not fighting the controls or the horrendous framerate drops, gravity well is exceedingly easy. The situations take no effort to “solve” and in most cases it is simply a matter of going from A to B and flipping a switch along the way. There is not a feeling of creativity to the level design, and most can be cleared very quickly giving no sense of satisfaction.
The situation where one cannot move the well is not the only glitch in the game. At times my ball would get stuck in or behind a gate, and twice the ball somehow got stuck underneath an onscreen object. In all of these cases, one must manually restart the level. I would not consider the terrible framerates a glitch, but they are certainly present.
Gravity well is available for$3.99 on the app store, if you are even remotely interested wait for a price drop. With so many spectacular games at only .99 cents, this price is not justifiable.
Graphics and Presentation
The art in the game is bland and uninspired, and I am surprised how much a certain background image looks like a direct rip-off of the Xbox 360 logo. Insufferable framerate drops make the game a nightmare to play at times.
Not only is there no itunes support, the in game music is obnoxious. One is forced to look at promotional material prompting all viewers to purchase the “Humble Brothers” music on itunes. There is hardly anything humble about taking away one’s itunes support and then asking one to buy the crappy music that is already in the game. On the plus side you can turn the music down.
The game is not fun. It is mostly functional, but there is little challenge and I never once caught myself at all enjoying it. The glitches are annoying, forcing one to restart many times.
I beat the game in less than an hour, after going back to play some levels for reasons already explained and I will never touch the game again. Also, there are no online leaderboards.