Quite often a mobile game professing aspirations of being just like Super Meat Boy will usually feature controls that just don’t quite work, since — after all — there’s only so much you can effectively achieve with a touch-screen. We’ve admittedly seen some games with rather complex on-screen control structures (and we’ve even praised some of them), but things generally things fall apart when convoluted merges with hyper-demanding action. Apeiron: The Tower (out now, $2.99) — a game challenging you to explore/escape silhouetted industrial complexes — is no certainly slouch about demanding precarious platform-jumping action, and yet additionally manages to feature controls up to the task!
Your basic controls in Apeiron: The Tower is that holding the screen’s left-hand side makes your robot-head move towards the left, while holding the right-hand side likewise moves you towards the right. These here are the entirety of Apeiron: The Tower’s controls, and — so long as you’re situated upon a perfectly flat area — work entirely as you’d expect for them to function. Things being functioning quite differently — however — when your robot-head is moving across an inclined surface, and it’s precisely here where the diabolical elegance of Apeiron: The Tower’s controls truly lie.
Moving in the uphill-direction of an incline will still function mostly as expected, although it’s worth noting you’ll continue to accelerate while moving up — which itself is quite odd — and will even be launched forward should you plow right past the hill’s peak. Now while not moving on an inclined surface will cause you to begin sliding backwards (as would be expected), attempting to move in the downhill direction across an inclined surface will force your robot-head to jump instead! The angle and power of this jump will be determined both by the specific surface you’re leaping from (you tend to jump higher from sharper angles), and how fast you were moving at the leap’s commencement.
Once in the air you may freely move left or right — even suddenly changing directions — all by holding either side of the screen, but there’s nothing you can do to change a lunge’s power — or angle of momentum — after you’ve already left the ground. Thus your challenge in Apeiron: The Tower becomes discovering how to best use the given environment in order to cross giant chasms, avoid deadly traps, and safely reach the exit. The difficulty of this all becomes quickly magnified when parts of the environment are moving, especially if those happen to be the very same parts you’re required to successfully leap from!
However, since simply letting you march straight towards the exit of each stage would be way too easy — although sometimes even that alone is actually rather hard — there’s additionally yellow crystals scattered across each level. Although these crystals are most often easily found along Apeiron’s beaten path (although perhaps not always so easily gathered), they’ll sometimes be sequestered away in cleverly obfuscated secret areas. Regardless of where they’re found, you’ll need to grab these crystals in order to unlock access to later level sets (seeing as how clearing every challenge in the previous level set is only half the battle towards unlocking the next region in Apeiron: The Tower).
This goes doubly so since Apeiron: The Tower features no IAPs with which you might bypass this crystal-grabbing mandate (which is a pleasant change of pace compared to most other mobile games these days). Thankfully the number of crystals needed is far from draconian, thus only the laziest of players would ever need to deeply fear finishing a level set without being able to traverse forward. Collecting all of these yellow crystals can additionally count towards unlocking achievements within Apeiron: The Tower, but that’s otherwise a purely elective endeavor (unless you happen to like achievements).
Furthermore — for those whom do enjoy such bragging rights — Apeiron: The Tower additionally features two online high-score boards per stage: one for simply seeing who can finish a level the fastest, and the other declaring who can grab everything the fastest. For those players who find merely surviving a stage to be a bit too bland, and are even bored by safely scooping up every last yellow crystal, these high-score boards should help to further extend your time spent on Apeiron’s precarious challenges. Some of the aforementioned achievements even center around securing a finishing time so amazing that it manages to remain on a level’s high-score list for a solid three days straight!
To be blunt: I rather enjoyed the savvy two-button control-scheme behind Apeiron: The Tower’s diabolical platform-jumping escapades, as well as the added challenge of grabbing ever last crystal, even if the game regularly managed to solidly thrash me about. Sadly — however — I ran into something that slightly soured my over-all opinion (to be clear: I was originally going to give this a game a 4.0 instead), and long-time readers of iFanzine might recognize this as something I’ve long been irked with whenever found. As such I must report that Apeiron: The Tower contains — at least during certain levels — the gift of ‘endless joy’ known as non-deterministic physics, and furthermore features them within a level where those non-deterministic physics can actually block your way.
The final stage of the first level set features a collapsing environment for you to fight your way through, whose cinematic flair initially made me feel as though I was racing through a less-naked version of the award-winning Icycle: On Thin Ice (our review). What quickly began to irritate me was when I came to realize the collapsing scenery was employing a physics engine, and that engine wasn’t always making the tumbling scenery behave in precisely the same way each time. There’s few things more frustrating than to have the physics fail you in a game where — even if you do everything correctly — debris might simply fall the wrong way, especially when the game itself is already rather hard.
Non-deterministic physics aside, the savvy controls are still quite amazing — the silhouetted graphics are all rather impressive (without ever getting in the way) — and Apeiron still manages to leap well over many other Super Meat Boy mobile wannabes! To be fair I do believe one could eventually make their way through the collapsing cinematic stages with enough determination, it’s just that players shouldn’t necessarily have to put up with things like that. Still, should you find yourself hankering for some Super Meat Boy style action on the go — and don’t plan on lugging something like a Playstation Vita around — then this here is still one of your best options currently available.
Apeiron: The Tower is a Super Meat Boy inspired game of precarious platform-leaping action, that furthermore features a two-button control scheme that’s actually savvy enough to work flawlessly via the limitations of a touch-screen. While pretty much always frustrating, the mixture of crystal collecting and platform-jumping action — merged with nice silhouetted graphics — generally makes Apeiron into a rather fun game! Unfortunately certain levels — in an attempt to add a cinematic flair (think something akin to a less-naked version of Icycle: On Thin Ice) — feature non-deterministic physics, and thus lead to numerous annoying deaths (which aren’t even the player’s fault) as a result.
A fairly challenging mobile-based “Super Meat Boy” clone with savvy controls
Certain levels contain leaping-puzzles plagued by non-deterministic physics