Stranded on a desolate alien planet having crash-landed and written off your ship, you explore the eery wasteland desperately seeking a way back home. Sounds like an excellent set-up for a sci-fi shooter or a survival horror adventure, doesn’t it?
That’s as maybe, but instead Red Hook Games’ debut, Derelict, tasks you with solving diabolical puzzles rather than blasting your way through hordes of slimy extra-terrestrial monsters. In fact over the game’s 42 levels and two modes of play (story and casual) there’s nary a close encounter to be had.
Don’t let that put you off though, because a wealth of brain teasing entertainment awaits as you go about reassembling the shattered guts of an abandoned alien space-craft.
Each level presents you with a damaged circuit board that must be repaired by connecting a series of wires and pipes together in order to send power from a glowing alien skull to various light emitting diodes.
Luckily controls are intuitive because the game lacks a tutorial or instructions. Swiping a finger around the screen lets you move around the board, while a single tap pans the camera in or out. Stages are set on a grid and touching a square rotates that segment anti-clockwise allowing you to link up the wires and assemble the puzzle piece by piece.
Rather irritatingly, however, there is a set solution to each puzzle and every section of wire must be used, meaning even if you manage to connect just a few segments and light up the board, you won’t pass the level. Bloody alien technology, eh? That said, once you get the hang of Derelict‘s mechanic the game is satisfactorily compelling and does get quite addictive.
Levels range from easy peasy to damn near inhuman difficulty; so while the game initially nails that pick-up-play quality, later stages should present enough of a challenge even for hardened puzzle experts. Unfortunately while difficulty levels are quickly ramped up, diversity falls by the wayside.
The core concept works well, but is repeated ad nauseam and I can’t help wish Red Hook had included some bonus stages with different objectives (hacking perhaps?) to break up the monotony. Also, while you don’t really expect jaw-dropping graphics from a puzzle game, Derelict could do with a bit of sprucing up in the visuals department.
All in all, the game may lack the polish and bells and whistles of some of its Appstore contempories, yet is still a solid puzzler. And well worth checking out at its current 67% off introductory price (99 cents).
iFanzine Verdict:Derelict’s overly functional approach to puzzling isn’t likely to set the Appstore alight, but the game is strangely riveting nonetheless.