We review Gravity Island (iOS), a puzzle platform game for iPhone and iPad starring a cute inflatable bag thing called Shiro who can flip the direction of gravity with the tap of a switch.
Gravity Island looks like a cutesy kiddie game on the surface – after all, the (very thin) plot basically involves an adorable white creature called Shiro (who may possibly be inflatable, byt he way he pops on spikes) searching for his lost twinkly fairy things (‘Lumies’). But once you dive in and clear the first world or two, you’ll discover that Gravity Island can be quite unforgiving, offering a much steeper challenge towards its climax.
The idea is simple enough. Each level contains three sparkly fairy things and an exit. Collect as many of the Lumies as you can and high-tail it to the exit, and you’ll progress to the next level. So far, so familiar, but the devs have turned your standard platformer gameplay on its head, quite literally, with the use of gravity switches.
These switches are scattered about each level and come marked with an arrow, pointing either up, down, left or right. Touching a switch changes the direction of gravity, so for instance hitting an ‘up’ switch will send you hurtling up to the ceiling.
This simple mechanic sets up Gravity Island’s puzzle-based challenges. There are four worlds to conquer and the first acts as a kind of tutorial, getting your brain used to the change in controls as you flip gravity about. I breezed through it with a perfect score in roughly half an hour, with most levels taking under a minute to complete.
When you hit world two (the obligatory ice world, complete with annoyingly slippery platforms) the challenge ramps up. Finishing a level with all three fairy things in the bag often requires careful exploration and planning, while the addition of nasty spikes and other obstacles means you’ll have to watch your step.
Gravity Island uses the dreaded on-screen buttons for control, but it actually works well. You have two buttons to move side to side and another button for jump, and they’re spacious enough on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus so your thumbs don’t mis-hit, without taking up too much valuable screen real estate. We haven’t tested the game on 4-inch iPhones, so can’t say how well it works on those smaller Apple displays.
The only issue is when you flip gravity from up/down to left/right, at which point the movement buttons change position to match your orientation. When you need to make some quick manoeuvres, this can occasionally cause you to miss the required button and meet an untimely demise. Thankfully each level is short enough that it’s never frustrating, just mildly irritating.
While you can smash your way through all four worlds in just a couple of hours if you don’t stress about capturing all of those bloody fairies, finishing with a perfect score takes a fair bit of extra effort. The shortness of each level means you can pick up Gravity Island for a quick five minute session, while the challenging and well-designed levels should hook puzzle fans for a lengthy commute.
You can grab Gravity Island for iPhone and iPad right now.