NyxQuest in Review – Play With Your Environment

Aside from the whole ordeal with building wings and flying too close to the sun, I don’t know a whole lot about the tale of Icarus, so I’m not sure how accurate the intro to NyxQuest is.  Regardless, it makes for interesting background in a tale with a twist that has you taking on the deity lover instead of the winged goofball.  You must navigate the ruins of ancient Greece to find the missing inventor, but your journey will be no walk in the park.  This game does violate one of my prime rules of portable platform games: don’t make the levels too expansive.  That said, it’s an interesting affair that should certainly please most discerning platform gamers’ palettes.

The story is a nice mix of unrequited love, disobeyed orders, a civilization destroyed, envy and betrayal.  Then again, Greek mythology always read like a supernatural soap opera.  You control Nyx, who must travel through a large expanse of ruined ancient Greece in order to find her true love Icarus.  She can fly, glide and push small things around.

More importantly, however, is that thanks to the “non-intervention” of the gods, you can also control the environment to help Nyx on her way.  If a pillar is blocking Nyx’s path, push it out of the way with your finger.  Raise and lower pedestals to help Nyx get around enemies.  Move giant blocks around to unlock doors or block jets of fire.  My personal favorite, however, is your ability to control fireballs by dragging them into appropriate bricks or the enemy.

While it’s not all chaos and destruction, I’m impressed with the control you have over the environment.  Unfortunately there’s no rewind, however, so you have to be careful not to be overzealous and get yourself into a position where you have to repeat a part of the level.  Thankfully most levels have numerous save points, so repeat action shouldn’t be too horrible.  Most things can be manipulated with a drag or a swipe though you need to be sure you keep items you want to manipulate out from behind Nyx’s controls.

Speaking of which, arrows let you move Nyx left or right, which are decent but don’t always seem the most responsive.  Nyx flies with the push of a button, and gets five flaps before she must recharge by landing on the ground.  At any time during those flaps you can keep holding the button to have Nyx glide, which is governed by a timer in the upper left corner.

My main complaint about the game is the length of the levels.  I’m thrilled that there is so much content, but for me an individual level should be attainable in a couple of minutes, even if that means 30 short levels versus 10 long ones.  Large levels on a small device especially tend to get overwhelming after a while.  I will say, however, that aside from that facet of the level structure, the design of the levels is quite nice.

The visuals in Nyx Quest are solid.  The backgrounds are the highlight, with crumbling architecture and massive stone statues littering the landscape.  The fire effects are pretty decent, and the visual depiction of the wind works rather well.  I also like how the whole picture scales in and out depending on the magnitude of what you’re doing, though there are a couple of instances where I would have liked to control that myself.  The one disappointment was in the persistent characters like the harpies and Nyx herself because while they were well animated, they were awfully small, making it hard to appreciate the detail.

For the most part the sound effects compliment the action perfectly, and some of the noises are actually kind of cool like when you’re dragging a stone around.  The one thing that seems a bit out of place is when someone talks, instead of using a voiceover it sounds like that annoying teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons.  The music is well orchestrated and fits the dire mood of the game.

Fans of platform games will definitely want to give this a try, as the mechanics are fairly original among its iPhone contemporaries.  More casual gamers might be a bit turned off by the length of the levels and the need for multi-touch to get past some of the obstacles, but they should still be able to appreciate the beauty of the game.  Overall this quest is definitely worth undertaking.

Note: NyxQuest Lite (free) and NyxQuest HD ($4.99) are also available on the App Store. 

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: NyxQuest                    NyxQuest HD Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Reviewed Ver:1.01Min OS Req:3.2
Price:$3.99App Size:139 MB
  • Plenty of game play
  • Interactive environment
  • Great visuals
  • Nice soundtrack
  • Long levels get overwhelming
  • Controls sometimes difficult
  • “Voices” are weird

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