On the Wind Preview

U.K. developer Don’t Step On The Cracks is slated to bring On the Wind to the App Store next Thursday, and we’re ready to give you the lowdown now that we’ve dug into a release build. The dev previously debuted on iOS with the Sleepy Time Sleep Timer app, so it comes as little surprise that he’s tackling his first iOS videogame with a relaxing experience in mind — one delivered with great artistic flair.

Like a blustery take on the auto-scrolling runner, this one has you guiding an air current as it gusts through a procedurally generated world. Funny thing about being an invisible force: only the things you sweep up and carry with you prove your existence to onlookers. Therefore the player’s goal is to keep a healthy swarm of leaves trailing at his or her finger, plucking more off trees as they pass by while avoiding blocks that threaten to strip leaves from the flowing cloud. The game’s environment shifts through the seasons to mark progress and rising difficulty.

A few things distinguish On the Wind from more typical auto-scrollers. You’re free to take the formless phenomenon anywhere onscreen, looping back and snaking it through tight valleys. Blowing through constricted areas is risky because it’ll whittle down your trailing leaf cloud unless you’re extremely careful about it. On the other hand, steering clear of danger isn’t a strategy for longevity either; leaves automatically fall away at a regular pace, forcing the player to bite the bullet and dive in for more in a pinch. This economy of leaves gives On the Wind its gameplay tension, which is well reinforced by its presentation: a symphony of musical tones play as you collect, while little flowers instantly spring up like grave markers as you lose your flock along the way.

We’ll have more to say about On the Wind come release day, when it will retail as a Universal game at $1.99. In the meantime, check out Don’t Step On The Cracks’ website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Now let’s roll some of that beautiful leaf footage: