Not one to waste time attaching a story to its ultra-intuitive premise, On the Wind (Out Now, $1.99) seamlessly ushers you into the game the moment you tap its intro screen. As we described in last week’s preview, Don’t Step on the Cracks’ debut auto-scroller is essentially a high concept game of chicken that dares you to take risks or face certain defeat if you play it safe for too long.
Is Wind an endless auto-scroller or does the player achieve a decisive victory after passing through all four seasons? I wish I could confirm first-hand but this game is so freaking tough! Between the rising leaf drop rate and ever more constricted passages as you push further into the in-game year, it’s difficult to imagine many players making it all the way through the four seasons in their first few days after purchase. One thing’s for sure: Wind does carry the endless scroller’s major weakness in starting you over from scratch, only gradually working your way back up to the high intensity that previously took the wind out of your sails. Wind gets serious style points for its fluid, move-anywhere take on the auto-scrolling genre, but on the other hand, there’s no depth beyond its leaf economy and skyrocketing challenge. For that reason it remains a casual gamer’s curiosity rather than something that’ll keep you on its hook if you’re looking for loads of content.
Wind is definitely built of solid stuff. I really appreciate the game’s auto-pause the moment you lift your finger from the touchscreen, which is a lifesaver if you get a call or need to check on your email inbox. The most common complaint is liable to be the fact that your finger is always stretched across the screen. While that’s an annoyance, I never felt that my view of the leaf cloud was unduly obscured; Wind has a way of pushing it just ahead of or behind the player’s finger depending on the control setting and that helps immensely. The greater problem on a small touchscreen is simply how wide an index finger is compared to the passages you’re trying to guide the leaves through. Half the game’s challenge comes from mastering the delicate art of shifting just a few pixels or looping halfway across the screen as the situation demands.
Despite the sky-high challenge, Wind has a decisively relaxing presentation thanks to its soft-hued backdrops and cozy symphony of chimes. The game welcomes external music if you’d prefer to launch a track that matches its truly epic difficulty level.
iFanzine Verdict: Auto-scroller fans will find On the Wind a nice change of pace from the typical genre fare and also the next great challenge to overcome. These air currents just don’t carry enough to keep your interest if you’re looking for a game with real depth though.