I absolutely love to explore caverns, creepy underground tunnels and the odd strange organism. That is in the gaming world at least. In real life I prefer to have my routes clearly mapped. The go-back once you find the next upgrade gameplay of series such as Metroid and Castlevania has always held an addictive fascination for me. Phoenix Spirit takes this formula, and transforms it into a handheld game of exploration, and even some relaxation.
You control the swimming spirit looking like a combination of a terrier and a beaver wearing a helmet from the days when real men crashed for real, and died accordingly. The movements are all controlled by tilting the iPhone, and it works really well. There are touch buttons for speed, jump and fire. You gain speed by diving which becomes quite annoying in narrow corridors when you land instead of gain speed. I would also have liked a virtual control stick as an option. As the backgrounds are generally quite dark the game suffers from glare when playing outside or under a lamp.
The gameplay is quite relaxing where you swim around trying to find out why the Mother Tree is feeling poorly. The more you explore, the more cool abilities you unlock. The game is saved at certain points resembling the save rooms found in Metroid and Castlevania. Another clear similarity how the game maps your progress using a simple branching map.
The Phoenix Spirit experience is great with beautiful graphics, atmospheric sounds and a clear sense of progression. Lighting effects, cell shaded objects, and interesting enemies help make the game a feast for the imagination. I played the game on both my iPhone 3G and iPad, and there are no slowdowns at all for the slower device. As the game screen doubles for the iPad the graphics suffer somewhat, but still remain immersive.
I have not yet completed the game, and the question is if I want to. Just like with the games found in the Castlevania and Metroid serieses there will be a vast void once the game is over. I of course want to heal the Mother Tree, but I also want to keep exploring these murky waters.
The music, and sound effects are top notch. You can play your own music if you rather prefer to have some heavy metal as a backdrop for your zen-like explorations.
Phoenix Spirit is one of those games that you really need to get for the iPhone or iPad(screen doubled). It combines great presentation with interesting explorative gameplay, and they only charge you a buck for it. The Mother Tree needs you…or at least the strange doggie you control.
Phoenix Spirit $0.99 Get it on
Seller: Spearhead Entertainment AB