A journey through modern art
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.