Idyllic Hands-On Preview

The first thing that always comes to mind when I think about FatCow Games’ upcoming iOS debut is the music video for “Billie Jean.” As with Michael Jackson’s character there, fate has blessed the star of Idyllic with mysterious messianic powers. Stuff doesn’t just light up at this guy’s touch though — life itself springs from his every footfall, as if each of the dude’s toes is a mini Genesis Device. Somehow. And for one planet that’s well past the brink of environmental catastrophe, it’s a darn good thing he exists!

Our time with Idyllic so far has definitively answered the question of whether this game is a fit for iOS — and that answer is “Heck yeah, baby!” It’s an infinite sidescroller focused on survival and score competition at its core, but lest onlookers make the mistake of thinking it’ll quickly fade into the crowd, Idyllic differentiates itself by mixing in a strong resource management mechanic.

While the player’s busy guiding the protagonist from one deadened piece of floating earth to the next – hopefully in such a way that he doesn’t lose his footing to enemies – he or she is also tasked with making him collect coins that can be spent on ability upgrades at periodically encountered shops. Some abilities help the player raise Messiah Dude’s odds of survival as good footing gradually becomes scarce, while others give the player more wiggle room for building up that high score tally.

What separates the winners and losers on Idyllic‘s Game Center leaderboard is how effectively players revive the ashen platforms strewn throughout the game world while striving for the longest possible distance. This requires not only landing on as many platforms as possible, but using the character’s abilities strategically — and our spider senses tell us this approach to infinite games is shaping up to be a winning formula! Shops appear to serve as checkpoints, so the player doesn’t lose his or her upgrade history should Messiah Dude fail to find a foothold and plummet to his doom.

If you’ve been following iFanzine long enough to remember my diatribe against the accelerometer-driven platforming in Wharr: Age of the Colossus, you might guess that I approached Idyllic‘s tilt interface with no small amount of trepidation. Happily, Idyllic put me at ease in this regard just about as soon as I picked it up. Any liabilities the game has are unlikely to be found in its physics or its automatic scroll rate, which feel well calibrated even to these tilt-weary hands of mine!

So, when can I call Idyllic‘s main character by a real name as opposed to “Messiah Dude?” Will the nature of his powers and assignment ever be revealed? Looks like that’s entirely up to the project’s followers, who can compete to explain it all in a writing contest just unveiled by FatCow Games! This is seriously cool. Don’t just do it for the FatCow mug — do it to associate yourself with a project and an indie developer that are shaping up to be standouts on the iOS scene!

Still no word on a release date or price yet for Idyllic, so keep an eye on FatCow’s website for the latest — and check back here for an iFanzine Verdict on the final version once it releases!