Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: MindTilt for iPhone and iPad

MindTilt by MadRuse Games is a 3D puzzle game that I really wanted to like. I came back to it several times with the best intentions, but eventually I gave up.
MindTilt is a tilt maze, by which I mean that everything which isn't nailed down moves in the same direction until it hits a wall or something else. I've played a few others in the past (the best is probably still Blockhouse), but this is the first time I see one in full 3D.

The play area is a cube, which you can rotate around its three main axes. The grey cubes are fixed in place; the green cube will move according to gravity every time you turn the cube. Your goal is to move the green cube to the goal position, which is marked in red.
The one above is one of the tutorial puzzles, but it's already challenging, requiring 5 moves to solve. Even if it's in a 3D setting, this one is actually a 2D puzzle, and is solved with rotations around only one axis.

Of course, the only rotations that actually matter are the ones around the two horizontal axes. Rotating around the vertical axis is only useful to get a better view of the pieces; it won't cause anything to move, and isn't counted by the game as a move.

To rotate the cube, you need to swipe your finger vertically, as the tutorial explains. Even if the tutorial doesn't tell you, you can swipe in both directions to rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise.

When you start playing the game, the first major issue becomes apparent: gesture detection just doesn't work reliably. Many times I had to swipe multiple times, because the gesture wasn't recognised. Even worse, it is very easy to rotate the cube around the wrong axis; since there is no undo function, this means having to restart the puzzle from the beginning.

I think it is unexcusable for an iOS game to have such a bad interface. Instead of having to make a gesture and only trigger the full rotation at the end, there should be immediate feedback, with the cube starting to rotate immediately and following the finger position. This would give the user an opportunity to preview the move and cancel it if it wasn't the one they intended to make.
The other serious issue is that the isometric projection used to draw the play area makes it extremely difficult to clearly understand the position in space of the pieces. Rotating around the vertical axis helps, but movement is too restricted. Also, I don't like how you can see the green block through everything else; this ruins the perspective and confuses even more.

I didn't get far into the game because it was just too frustrating to cope with the shortcomings in the user interface. This is a shame because the official trailer shows a lot of additional content: switches, teleports, springs, mechanical arms...
I won't even talk about the unbearable background music. I had to turn it off.

The main problem of this game is accessibility. The good news is that many of the issues should probably be relatively easy to fix, if the developers wanted to address them.

 

Summary

Nontrivialness★★★★★
Logical Reasoning★★★☆☆
User Interface★☆☆☆☆
Presentation★☆☆☆☆
Loading Time★☆☆☆☆
Saves Partial Progress
Status Bar

©2013 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmoria and nontrivialgames.blogspot.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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