Developer: Patrik Hedmalm
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Swirl - While those occasional anti-seizure warnings at the beginning of some games are meant to heed a cautionary warning, I sometimes get a bit excited about what great game I might be about to experience. It’s kind of like warning a child not to touch something, which instantly makes it ten times more appealing. Epicore’s Swirl may well be the first iPhone app I’ve seen carrying such a warning, so I was pretty stoked on checking it out.
Swirl is a fast-paced 3D game that takes full advantage of the accelerometer and tilt functions of the iPhone. It’s kind of a racing game, but not really. If I had to coin a phrase for what would best describe Swirl, it would be a first-person sliding game, but that would just sound silly. What basically happens is you go sliding through tunnels collecting stars and avoiding obstacles to see how many points you can rack up. Swirl takes a pretty unique perspective and kind of switches up the general concept of a traditional racing game. I found it to be mildly fun, but also unforgiving and with a slightly steep learning curve.
Swirl provides you with five different tunnel levels, which you must unlock by meeting specific achievements in each previous level. I’m going to be honest here and say I have no idea how any level but the first looks because I can’t meet the first achievement. I have tried and tried and tried again, but I can’t get 500,000 points by stage five in the first level to save my life. Granted, the first couple of attempts were intentionally thwarted because I kept purposely looking for the mushrooms (I’ll explain later), but even on serious attempts, I just never quite make it.
This steep learning curve I’m talking about will do one of two things depending on how you look at games. You’ll either obsessively keep playing to unlock all levels, or you’ll become frustrated and give up. I’m not saying I think Swirl should just give away the new level keys, but a little encouragement would have been helpful, such as making the first achievement a little easier. It kind of makes me wonder if the subsequent achievements are even harder, which means I’m doomed to never slide the glacier level.
Aside from what could just be my ineptitude at playing the game, I will point out that the 3D graphics and 360-degree gameplay are pretty cool. Besides stationary obstacles that take away health, there are health power ups to restore it and additional mushroom and paint bucket obstacles. The paint buckets temporarily block your view by splashing paint blobs on the screen and the mushrooms (tee hee) make your view a bit... distorted. The mushroom effect really amuses me. There’s also a racing helmet that if picked up, will cause you to briefly go flying through the tunnel at warp speed – and good luck controlling yourself then.
The controls for Swirl work exactly as you would expect, but the dang close button kept getting in my way depending on how I would hold my device. However, I will point out that Swirl is Feint enabled and glory-be, when you tap to enter the Swirl Lounge and log in to Feint from the main menu, you aren’t actually exiting out of the game. Random redirecting and closing is one aspect about many apps that simply drives me nuts.
If you are able to get the hang of the controls, Swirl features an unlimited number of stages in each level. You can slide as long as you can stay alive. You can compete against Feint community high scores and chat in game with other players in the Feint community if you like. Epicore also promises additional worlds, challenges, and modes to come in future updates. Check out the video below to get a good visual idea of how Swirl works and then decide for yourself if you’re up to the challenge.