Twist Pilot is an puzzle action by Zynga for iOS and Android. The game involves controlling Phil through a maze while collecting rings and avoiding spiders.
The game uses simple gameplay elements and cleverly designed levels to deliver the thrills. Let’s take a closer look at it.
This is Phil. Phil is a… I’m not sure what he is but he looks like a weirdly shaped band-aid and has eyes and a mouth. Phil also happens to be constantly rotating. Your goal is to guide Phil through the maze towards the goal, while collecting as many rings as you can and avoiding the spiders.
Now because Phil is constantly rotating, guiding him through the maze is not as easy as it sounds. You have to time your movements so that you can easily pass through narrow sections and bends. You also have to look out for spiders and giant moving blocks that might come in your way. But most importantly, you have to take care not to touch any surface at all.
This is where it gets tricky because if you touch something that is not a ring or a key you lose health. Lose enough health and the game is over and you have to start the level all over again. Thankfully, your health regenerates and in particularly challenging levels you will also find health boosts but that doesn’t mean you can carelessly lose your health. Losing health also comes with a 1.5 second time penalty, which affects your final time.
At the end of each level, you earn up to three stars depending upon how many rings you collected and if you managed to finish under the target time for the level.
You have power-ups scattered throughout the levels to help you through. Some of them make Phil smaller so he can squeeze through tight spaces. Some make him longer, which honestly only makes things more difficult. Some slow him down, some increase his rate of rotation and some make him spin the other way. The effects of these power-ups are temporary so you need to do whatever you have to do quickly once you use them. The power-ups are optional and you can only use them if you want to although at times they are necessary.
To move Phil around, you have to drag your finger across the screen. Now I have couple of issues with this method of controlling. First of all, it is the exact opposite of the way we are used to moving things around on a touchscreen. Take a web browser for example. When you swipe on the screen, the web page move in the direction of the swipe, along with your finger. We have been doing this for long enough for it to feel natural. In Twist Pilot, swiping the finger moves the environment in the opposite direction, which is why it feels odd at first.
Secondly, the game involves a lot, and I mean a lot of swiping on the screen. After a few levels you feel like you need a new set of fingertips and start worrying if all that swiping around has wiped the prints off your fingers. The rate of motion is understandably slowed down so when you are navigating through tight spaces you have more precision but when moving through long, wide spaces the amount of swiping you have to do becomes quite tiring. An alternate, perhaps accelerometer based control mechanism, would have been welcome, at least as an option.
The initial levels in the game are fairly simple. You will be navigating through uncomplicated mazes and not have much in terms of enemies to worry about. The later levels wind up the difficulty level considerably and make you crawl through some tight spaces while throwing a ton of spiders in for good measure. The target time also drops from comfortably high to uncomfortably close and you may find yourself replaying levels if you dawdle around or take too much damage repeatedly.
Initially, I didn’t think much of the gameplay and found it way too boring and easy for my liking. However, the later levels are quite gripping. Also, even when it becomes difficult, the game is never too hard and 99% of the times you will be flying through a level with three stars at the first attempt. This makes you keep going to the next level as soon as you finish one and thus end up playing the game for much longer than you initially anticipated. There are 75 levels in total right now but more are promised in the future.
Graphics and Sound
Twist Pilot has a very simplistic look to it. The visuals and animations lack the polish of some of the games we have seen and has the feel of something made on a tight budget. The character designs are also clearly targeted towards kids and adults playing the game might not find them all that amusing. It’s not a terrible looking game, and actually looks pretty decent on high-resolution displays. Just that it lacks the sophistication and flair one expects from a game studio as big as Zynga.
The sound in the game is pretty good though. You have a good variety in the background music, from dubstep to some mexican music and it’s all pretty good. The sound effects are also pretty decent overall.
While it did not seem much in the beginning, Twist Pilot turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable. The gameplay is fun and not too difficult so that pretty much anyone can enjoy this game, although the kids would probably like it more than the adults. The reversed control mechanism takes getting used to and the swiping can get tiring at times. Also, the visuals could have used some more polish. But in the grand scheme things, these issues don’t bother you as much as you’d think and for $0.99, you really can’t complain much. Overall, for that price, Twist Pilot is a fun game that’s worth checking out.
Rating: 4/5 Pros: Simple yet engrossing gameplay that should appeal to anyone, peppy soundtrack Cons: Reversed movement control takes getting used to, all the swiping can get a bit tiring, visuals lack polish and look a bit tacky