A jour­ney through mod­ern art

Mac Format - - RATED - De­vel­oper En­gine Soft­ware, en­gine-soft­ iPhone, iPod touch, iPad 4+

The iPhone, es­pe­cially in por­trait mode, is just per­fect for board-based strat­egy games, par­tic­u­larly of the hex type. There are count­less ex­am­ples on the App Store but few have kept me com­ing back as much as Ho­plite, which sur­faced in late 2013. I say ‘sur­faced’ be­cause that’s kind of where you start. The idea here is that your pixel Spar­tan war­rior has to go on a quest for the Golden Fleece, de­scend­ing deeper and deeper into the un­der­world.

It’s very much in the dun­geon-crawler mould (like Rogue), and you have a few skills and weapons to de­feat enemies as you try to get to the next set of stairs to work your way down the lev­els. You can only move one hex tile at a time, un­less you use en­ergy to leap fur­ther. With a spear and your bash abil­ity you rid the level of enemies and make your get­away. But the turn-based tile-hop­ping never feels slow, enemies ad­vance on you, the dif­fi­culty ramps up very quickly and, like a game of chess, you’ll be left pon­der­ing your next move for longer and longer pe­ri­ods.

It’s all about bal­anc­ing the risk of at­tack­ing your enemies (who of course have vary­ing abil­i­ties too) and get­ting to the al­tars to ‘pray’ and get up­grades to your own abil­i­ties, from spear throw­ing dis­tance to heal­ing and bash ef­fec­tive­ness. More pow­er­ful up­grades re­quire a sac­ri­fice in the form of health, so the trade-offs con­tinue as you be­come more pow­er­ful. It’s all clas­sic dun­geon fun on your mo­bile. In­spired by the art of Mon­drian and Kandin­sky, Proun+ is like a break­neck dash through the synapses of a painter’s brain. It is an ex­plo­sion of colour as you wres­tle a ball along tube­like roller­coast­ers cov­ered in colour­ful bar­ri­ers that stop you dead. Spin around the tube, avoid ob­sta­cles and fin­ish in the top three to un­lock a new track or chal­lenge. Open up all of a level’s tracks and you can do it all over again – only faster.

Proun+ can be dizzy­ing, and it can frus­trate un­til you un­der­stand a track’s lay­out, or if you get stuck on a sur­vival race (one hit and it’s game over). But tracks with point gates and races against five other balls are fun. You can’t col­lide with them, but they can hit ob­sta­cles, which they do – of­ten. It’s great to feel the game even has it in for your op­po­nents as you shoot along in a vi­brant and imag­i­na­tive world. Craig Gran­nell

An en­ter­tain­ing, if tricky, high­speed racer with plenty of con­tent and a de­cid­edly artis­tic bent.

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