The plot to WitchHut’s recently released Sewer Escape (out now, $0.99) feels like what might have happened should Don Bluth have first injected himself with heroin before he created Secret of Nimh. It all begins when three rats manage to escape from the diabolical laboratories of doctor Madbrain, only to find refuge in a sewer getaway utterly filled with dangerous radioactive waste. After gaining massively enlarged brains thanks to deciding the glowing green glop might be tasty, their newfound intellect and curiosity demands that they must discover what lies above.
It is to this end that they have constructed a giant cannon with which they plan to shoot one of their own up into the stratosphere, once and for all answering the great mysteries of what truly lies beyond Mother Earth. Of course – what with all the pipes and other structures in the way – it’s not going to be a simple matter to get their test pilot, Kenny, all the way up there without some serious help. It also doesn’t exactly help their cause much that their cannon lacks the necessary oomph to even launch poor Kenny all the way out of the sewers, but this can be rectified later on with upgrades.
Thankfully the exposure to all of that radioactive waste has left Kenny, who didn’t get the large brains that Al and Bert did, with an extremely powerful asset at his disposal: potent radioactive farts. All you have to do – in order to unleash a mighty blast of air – is tap Kenny before he falls back down off the bottom of the screen, with the specific direction of propulsion being determined by which side you poke him from. Along the way up there will also be coins floating about that can be collected should Kenny happen to fly into them, or if the player slashes through them with their finger (slashing Kenny, however, does not affect him in the slightest).
These coins that you collect can in turn be used to purchase a variety of permanent upgrades: enhancement to power up duration, increases to the launching power of the cannon, etc. In general the asking price for these various upgrades is rather fair such that you’ll never feel like you’ve been required to grind forever in order to acquire the next piece of equipment. What you most definitely won’t – at any point in time – find yourself pressured to do is to throw IAP money WitchHut’s way, in part because Sewer Escape has been delivered to iTunes 100% micro-transaction free.
Outside of amassing coins – as well as seeing just how (non-narcotically) high one can get Kenny – the other thing players can focus on are achievements, of which Sewer Escape contains a whopping forty. Not only do these provide a tally list of various tasks you have completed, but there is furthermore a specific coin reward attached to each medal earned in the name of rat kind. It is worth noting – however – that the acquisition of achievements currently causes instability to occur on lower end devices, with straight up crashing being common if two of them are obtained close together.
While it is definitely a blast to help Kenny fart his way to the moon, and whatever mysteries lies beyond, it is only fair to point out that Sewer Escape is a bit on the light side in regards to content. For the lion’s share of the journey upwards – especially if you choose to ignore the coins – there isn’t much to worry about other than making sure you never fail to tap your chosen guinea pig, although they do mix things up a bit in the back half where you no longer have the edge walls serving as safety nets. Personal mileage will definitely vary wildly for a game such as this, so – while some will certainly fall in love with Sewer Escape –consider yourself warned if you’re the type that prefers titles with more variety and/or depth.
Anyways – gameplay matters aside – I would like to take a moment to point out that Sewer Escape is definitely a very nice looking game, filled to the brim with various details and animations. The various randomized stage segments – even if mechanically similar – have all sorts of random stuff appearing in the background, some of which can even be interacted with if you quickly tap on them (but this is not in any way required). This level of random interactivity continues to all of the game’s menus themselves, where tapping on various objects – such as Kenny, or flies buzzing about – will all produce reactions. The end result of all this is a title where the visual presentation – even if the gameplay might be a tad repetitive – is certainly top notch, especially when compared to the many other far more bland looking apps on iTunes.
iFanzine Verdict: Sewer Escape is a game with well implemented controls, nice graphics, a bizarre plot impetus, and a Risk-Vs.-Reward gameplay scheme (since you can’t both tap Kenny and slash coins at the same time). The game furthermore views a wide range of achievements and upgrades for players to strive for, all without at any point in time harassing people with the ever dreaded menace of IAPs. It is – however – true that the game is a touch lacking in the variety department when compared to many other titles on iTunes, a matter that will potentially bother some people more than others.