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Helix Review (iOS)

Ann spends her free time running in circles

Indie game developer Michael Brough, who gave us delights such as 868-HACK now brings us Helix, a fast paced action game for iOS.

Retro is definitely in. My favourite pub has a space invaders console, several of our newer card games feature 8-bit artwork and the current day of computer games is forever looking back on the glorious eighties. Helix is just such a game. The 8-bit artwork, whilst original, definitely harks back to the days of ten-pence-a-go gaming in stuffy arcades by the seashore.

10 - nnkWlmNThe aim of the game is deceptively simple. You need to move your wee ‘ship’ in circles around the various 8-bit objects that the game flings at you in order to defeat them. You keep going till you hit one of them instead of circling it. The controls for Helix are also remarkably uncomplicated; you use an invisible joystick on the screen to make your ship go round. You can use the joystick to the left or right of the screen, making it a perfectly ambidextrous game.

Sounds simple enough and it really is too, but it’s also very unforgiving. The slightest touch on one of those 8bit beasties and its game over!

The game is well randomised and you’ll not see the same sequence of foes twice. There’s also a healthy variety of things that it sends your way; from the simple circle-it-once type enemies to more complex beasts that evolve into other critters once you “destroy” them, or huge ones that take repeated circles before you’re done with them.
The artwork of Helix is quiet elegant with its variety of floral, spiral, flying saucer, space squidy type things coming to get you. On the bigger iPad screen you can also see a printed circuit board background that isn’t as evident on the smaller iPhone.

Helix gets very busy, and really hard, very quickly. There’s a fairly steep difficulty curve; although you do get a brief breaking in period, the game is out to get you pretty much right from the start.
The music is a perfectly pitched Anamanaguchiesque soundtrack by Andrew Toups, which winds you up and keeps you playing. It works really well with the whole retro look of the game.

HelixThe game works on the sudden death principal; once you’re tagged you’re dead. This also makes it a great little competitive game. I plan to take this in for my colleagues to have a little team based competition for our next half hour team-time. I anticipate lots of noise, swearing and laughter.

At £1.99 it’s possibly a little overpriced when seen next to such games as Mighty Adventure. But there’s no in app purchasing either which is always a plus.

Given that this game costs about the same as a can of juice and a chocolate bar, but will keep you entertained for way longer than either, I’d say your money was definitely better spent on Helix than on Mars.

3.5 evolving 8-bit critters out of 5

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