Developer: Sunside Inc.
I do love a sturdy selection of games to choose from, and after the past several weeks of up-and-down shiners and disappointments across the AppStore, I was more than ecstatic to see this past week deliver some strong hitters.
While they all deserve a commendable applause in their own right, there’s only room for one under this edition of Apple App-Aholics Anonymous.
With a name such as Crow, one wouldn’t be too far from the truth if he/she guessed that the story is based around you (a black crow) and a scarecrow who threatens the lives of your starving peers. Sounds simple enough.
Crow begins by giving you very little description as to what to do and a decently-spacious world to explore. Using your finger as a guide, the crow will follow wherever you tell him to go (I like that this feature uses the touch screen to its capacity, but I would prefer a virtual joystick option, as a big ole finger can sometimes get in the way of the beautiful graphics). The main objective is to scout out challenges, which usually involves the crow (you) zooming through some sort of landscape, collecting items and jewels while facing an enemy. While in battle, you will mainly rely upon a unique scheme that combines the typical “health” and “mana” into one element; once your health meter is full, you are free to click the icon, followed by swiping across the screen to attack your enemy or drawing a circle to form a limited barrier around your character (two attributes that are very touch intuitive, as well). By completing the challenges successfully, you will receive trinkets that will allow you to improve your magical capabilities and place a curse on the scarecrow to bring relief to your fellow crows.
After this, you will face several other villains who need to be cursed by you in a similar manner. There is no logical explanation as to why you would want to do this except for personal advancement of power. There also just happens to be a rather ambiguous narrator asking you to do this form him so that both of you may be powerful together. Get any creepy vibes from him?
While the touch gameplay is one unique element to this otherwise simple game, Crow does feature another intriguing fact: While today’s popular gaming engines capable of producing realistic graphics on the latests iDevices includes Epic Games’ Unreal 3, as well as Unity Technologies’ Unity 3.5, it would appear that Sunside Inc. has chosen to pioneer their own gaming engine known as Radiance. With a name like that, a gamer would expect the graphics to be comparable to some of the leading designers in the biz, and from my experience, it’s easy to see how well Radiance and the 4S Retina screen function with each other. Add to that a fine (but somewhat repetitive) musical score by David Kelly and Voodoo Highway Music, and Crow becomes a game that is, above all, an attractive work of art.
Crow’s touch controls rely heavily upon the screen’s sensors to do the work. This is cool, if you enjoy a more modern scheme of gaming tactics, but it can become annoying at times as your finger will be in the way 40-60% of the time. Again, I would love a joystick option!
Sadly, when you beat the game, there is minimal replay value; you can either start over (which I suggest doing, as there is a slightly altered storyline based on the choices you make) or delete it from your device.
Sum it Up:
Fantastic graphics. Nice soundtrack. Overall, this is a beautiful showpiece. However, if not for the wonderful display Sunside Inc. has provided, the gameplay and simple plot would not be enough hold many gamers’ interests (though there are a few shining moments when all these elements mesh to craft a truly magnificent gaming experience).
As a whole, though, Crow is a nice-functioning piece of art that is worth a try, whether you are compelled to purchase it now or you wish to wait for it to go on sale. But be informed that as beautiful as Crow is, the $2.99 price tag will get you a game that can be completed in only 1.5 hours, a blink compared to some current iOS applications that emulate the length of console titles.
You decide, Addicts. Happy downloading.