Developer: Laurence Evans
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Virion SD for iPhone is a puzzle style game based on matching shapes to receptors to complete levels within a specified time frame. Virion is definitely unlike any puzzle game I’ve seen before, but its uniqueness doesn’t necessarily mean it is destined for greatness. It has a few strong points, but some of the developer descriptors used in the App Store, such as “intuitive,” “natural,” and “satisfaction,” are not necessarily ones I’d agree with.
Some of Virion’s features that are strong include a unique player profile setup that allows you to create photo-based profiles for up to three players, a well-suited sound track and background effects, as well as responsive touch screen maneuvering. On the other hand, I don’t find much about the game that is intuitive or satisfying even though the premise is unique by its own right.
Your goal with Virion SD is to eliminate viruses one strand at a time by attaching the coordinating shape to the protruding receptors that rotate clockwise around the center screen. You select the shape, line it up with the matching receptor and tap the middle to release it. It is a unique matching game for sure, but unfortunately not very forgiving. You must align the shape with its coordinating receptor precisely or you lose points and the receptor changes during the next rotation. Frenzy is a fine thing in a game, but only when there is a definable means to an end. In this case, close isn’t close enough and it becomes quickly frustrating.
As far as intuitive, that’s the last word I would use to describe Virion. There is no jump in and play aspect, but there is an included three-step tutorial in the form of a visual diagram and yet even that left me scratching my head. I actually had to follow the You Tube link to see the game in action before I could start playing. After that, it did make sense, but only a few levels in I could see that it was going to become too difficult to be enjoyable because of its fast pace and relentlessly unforgiving acceptance of a shape and receptor alignment. If you’re even a few centimeters off center, the shape fails to attach itself.
While Virion SD has several unique features, it doesn’t seem as polished as it could be. Puzzle game fans appreciate a challenge, but a challenge of the mind is not the same as a challenge of dexterity. If the selected shape would remain stationary while the receptors rotated around it, it would be easier. As it is, you have to use your finger to slide and align the selected shape and your finger blocks your view of perfect alignment - all too frustrating to advance through the progressively more difficult levels.
With a few tweaks, Virion SD could be uniquely challenging and a creative puzzle game. In its current state, I’d rather suffer the virus than try to complete more than four or five levels.