Who Is God
Developer: Magiko Gaming
Get Demo/Buy: 80 Microsoft Points
Magiko Games are no stranger to our Xbox Live Indie features. Or our trophies, for that matter. Their Platformance series has proudly topped two of our Game Of The Week roundups... and once again, the boutique developer has crafted a standout platformer that provides slick mechanics and incredible value for a negligable price point.
Who Is God, in its own small way, is designed to answer the age-old question about who should be considered the one true deity. To do so, players will compete for the highest online leaderboard scores by assuming the identity of one of four major Gods: Ganesha, Buddha, Xenu and, well, God. Obviously. You'll need to bounce your extradimensional entity up an infinitely sprawling vertical level that throngs with unstable platforms, hazards and all manner of unpredictable and indescribable shenanigans. Your opponent's' highest attempts are noted on the side of the screen, with the objective being to beat them all and reaching the coveted top spot on the scoreboard. The drive to become the true God will become an overwhelming compulsion that's difficult to resist.
Let's get this out of the way with here and now: yes, Who Is God is more than vaguely reminiscent of Doodle Jump. In fact, the core mechanics are broadly identical - except that tilt controls have given way to responsive analogue inputs and the sketchy art design has been replaced by pulsing neon mind candy. Who Is God looks absolutely beautiful, complimenting is colourful and eyecatching aesthetic with an addictive soundtrack that will lodge deep inside your brain, titillatingly tickling your pleasure receptors as it does so. Magiko have balanced their classic 8-Bit presentation with a modern edge, and the compromise is thoroughly stunning.
There are a couple of neat additions to the formula, including a limited jump function that gives you a small number of powerful leaps - useful in a crisis or as a clever way of reaching more useful platforms. When it's gone, it's gone... so use it wisely.
In terms of raw value, Who Is God is all about the addiction factor. You'll likely dip into it frequently in order to check on your friends' scores (and beat them soundly), with the distinct probability of five-minute sessions turning into afternoon marathons. The experience would also work brilliantly on a Windows 7 Phone, for the record, and we hope that Magiko decides to make the jump much like the original PLATFORMANCE: Castle Pain.
Who Is God is an addictive and attractive platformer; a great idea honed and polished to a mirror shine. 80 Microsoft Points is a small price to pay to become the one true God!
There are two types of avatar game out there: cynical pieces of tat that rely on avatars as their only unique selling point, or unique game experiences that just happen to feature your virtual self - and would work just as well without. Phase Runner is definitely a prime example of the latter, providing a relaxing and refreshing experience that blows most of its competitors out of the water.
The premise is as simple as running around and collecting score pickups, all while dodging the incoming onslaught of enemies who want to take you down. However, the ground on which you stand is a constantly-changing selection of sine waves and undulating phases that ripple, twist and change before your very eyes. Taking advantage of the insane geometry is a mind-enhancing, psychadelic, wonderful waste of time; an incredible distraction that will entertain for minutes or hours. Surviving each level and seeing what brain-warping insanity lies beyond is more than enough to keep you invested... which would be more than enough to warrant an instant purchase by itself. Pleasingly, though, Phase Runner is backed up by a thorughly excellent presentation. The trippy visuals are detailed, colourful and gorgeous without ever being garish and overwhelming - and the music will soon lull you into a state of pure unadulterated zen.
Frankly, even if you don't decide to invest, you should definitely download the trial version and keep it on your hard drive. You'll be able to enjoy a fair bit of the effortlessly cool expeience just from the demo... but this outstanding achievement definitely deserves your money.
Phase Runner will blow your mind and chill you out at the same time. It's seriously groovy.
Developer: Fixed-Point Consulting LLC
Appearances can be deceiving. Millennium Man is incredibly rough around the edges, but underneath the coarse visuals and forgettable music is a seriously solid platformer that packs a superbly powerful game mechanic.
As a hapless inmate escaping a mysterious prison, you'll need to control time itself in order to progress through your labyrinthine surroundings. You can instantly travel in time - not space - over the course of 13,000 years of history, and doing so completely changes the face of the environment. The further into the future you go, the more decrepit and decaying the prison becomes (meaning, of course, that barriers crumble into dust and defences become meaningless, but travelling back in time restores platforms to their original positions. Using this dynamic to advantage is immediately intuitive, but doing so well provides some surprisingly cerebral puzzles along the way.
Millennium Man is a rough diamond that's well worth checking out if you're a fan of exciting new game mechanics. Makes some of Braid's levels look a bit tame by comparison - which isn't something I say lightly.