You know what they say; you should never judge a book by its cover. And much the same can be said about iOS games and their App Store screenshots. Which is why I’m ashamed to admit that at first glance I wrote Ventura Science‘s vertical platformer Salvage Heroes (out now, free) off as looking a bit bland and unimaginative.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

For starters, Salvage Heroes has a really interesting — and, yes, imaginative — post-apocalyptic sci-fi premise. In it, you play as a hoverbike-riding badass who earns a crust by descending deep into the crumbling remains of once great arcologies in search of salvageable items.

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The fast-paced platforming action is split between two gameplay modes: Jobs and The Pit. The first, Jobs, sees you undertaking missions for wealthy clients who need you to retrieve specific relics. Your aim here is to reach the ground floor of the arcology and grab a relic before your limited air supply runs out. That’s easier said than done, though, because these ruinous buildings are rife with traps and obstacles like laser turrets, poisonous gas clouds, and piles of jagged rubble. Boosting quickly from platform to platform to avoid these hazards is pretty thrilling and a surprising amount of skill and split-second strategizing is required to snag as many gold bars and oxygen tanks as you can without wrecking yourself.

Salvage Heroes’ second mode, The Pit, is an endless spin on the main game. You don’t have to worry about finding relics or running out of air here, and are instead free to focus solely on collecting gold as you plummet as far as possible into the abyss. Of the two modes on offer, I think I preferred The Pit. It’s challenging, enjoyably addictive, and perfectly suited to playing in short bursts when you’ve got a few minutes to kill. Oh, and I should also mention that the levels in Salvage Heroes are procedurally generated, so no two games are ever quite the same.

In between doing Jobs and taking trips down The Pit, you can spend the gold you’ve accumulated on useful upgrades for your hoverbike. (This being a free-to-play game, you can also earn extra gold by opting to watch video ads, so you’ll never be short of in-game cash.) Sadly though, there aren’t any unlockables like additional characters or vehicles to work towards, which puts a bit of a dent in the game’s longevity.

Overall — despite my initial misgivings — I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with Salvage Heroes. It’s not the flashiest or best-looking game ever, but it does have hidden depths that, while not immediately apparent, are well worth plumbing.

Verdict

Don’t let the gloomy App Store screenshots put you off, Salvage Heroes is an action-packed and insanely addictive platformer with an imaginative post-apocalyptic sci-fi premise.

'Salvage Heroes' Review: A Platformer With Hidden Depths
Imaginative sci-fi premise2 addictive gameplay modes
Graphics are a bit bland
4.0Overall Score