We review Tomb of the Mask, a fast-paced action/platform iPhone game that has you racing against a relentless rising lake of lava, like a reverse Downwell.
My reactions may be fading now that I’m marching steadily through my thirties, but I still get a kick from fast-paced mobile games like Downwell, which have you racing through each level as quickly as possible. And while it’s possible to slow down the action in Downwell to take a quick breather, you get no such respite in Tomb of the Mask, thanks to an ever-rising lake of death bubbling just beneath your arse.
While Downwell had you hurtling down a seemingly infinite chasm, Tomb of the Mask flips things around and has you scaling a tower in double-fast time. Controls are even simpler: just swipe in a direction to move that way. You can sail through the air in any direction unhindered, but the caveat is that you can’t stop until you hit a wall. This means you’ll have to think carefully but quickly about every move, to avoid getting caught in a dead end or impaled on spikes.
Things are further complicated by pinball-style bumpers that bounce you around and enemies that kill you with a single touch, so you’ll need rapid reactions to survive to the end of each level; Tomb of the Mask isn’t a game to be played after a few cheeky pints. Thankfully you’ll also find power-ups scattered around which provide considerable help, such as momentarily stopping the rising flow of lava.
Along the way you’ll also be collecting coins, which can be used to upgrade the effects of power-ups and buy new masks to give you special bonuses. You can also use them to continue play when you inevitably screw up. If you do bite the dust, you can watch an ad to earn yourself one continue. After that, you’ll have to spunk up a lot of coins to revive your fallen hero, or else start again from the beginning. Thankfully the levels change up each time, so you won’t be replaying the same bits over and over.
The further you get before copping it, the bigger your final score. And as an incentive to do better, the points you win help your little fella to level up. At set levels you unlock new masks, which give you even better abilities and help you to get that little bit further.
Tomb of the Mask’s retro-style graphics are hardly original but they suit the game perfectly and are nice and clear, so you can easily tell when you’re approaching an obstacle. Occasionally you might swipe up without realising that there’s a spike pit there because you couldn’t quite see it at the edge of the screen, but it’s a pretty rare quibble. Most of the time, you’ll simply die because you made the wrong choice.
With its addictive ‘oh god, just one more go’ gameplay, Tomb of the Mask is well worth downloading, especially as it’s free to check out. The game launches on the App Store on February 10.