Gameplay: 7 / 10
Graphics: 8 / 10
Replay Value: 8 / 10
Sound and Music: 7 / 10
Research has suggested that smartphone owners spend more time playing games than performing any other functions on their devices. In a separate survey, iPhone owners spent more time, on average, than other smartphone owners playing games on their handsets. There’s no doubt that mobile games have become somewhat of an addiction, thanks to the likes of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope, and the likes. In terms of graphical capabilities, some games are on par with console games of just a few years ago.
I stumbled upon a game, developed by LightStorm3D, which provides the right amount of storyline, graphics and gameplay to fall into the above-mentioned category. Gene Effect is available for iOS and Android platforms (released last year on iOS and in January for Android), and can easily provide hours of gameplay for buyers.
A game like Angry Birds is addictive because it’s easy to play (for most) and each of the levels are relatively quick to get through. Gene Effect, however, is quite the opposite. There is an in depth storyline, which helps immerse players into the solving puzzles while exploring maps. The story, in short, revolves around a simple rescue mission to Kratoss, in the not too distant future, where players uncover secrets that could change the views on mankind’s history. In conjunction with this background, the visuals are pleasing to the eye. Light effects are more pronounced as the environment which the gamer explores is quite dark, and only lit up via lighting from its surroundings using lens flares and light bloom. Additional aesthetics in the game are provided by the landscapes in which you find rivers flowing, lightning strikes, and strange anomalies.
The unfortunate issue with Gene Effect is that not all Android users will be able to experience the lighting effects, as there are only a few handsets for which this is optimised. Although there aren’t any issues with iOS devices, Android owners should check if their devices are optimised for full graphics before purchasing. There are also one or two environment glitches, but are mostly not noticeable as it’s in the background in a few rock faces and occurs very seldom.
The controls of the ship are extremely simple; navigation of the ship on the bottom left of the screen and power-ups on the bottom right. The game is advertised as an action-exploration title, which is a touch misleading. The game predominantly features more exploration and puzzle solving than action scenes gamers are used to. During exploration, the ship gathers resources and power-ups. Resources are divided into ore, which is mined and stored in various storage bays around the map, as well as red, blue and yellow minerals, which are used to power up different equipment that’s non-functional. Power-ups are collected in the form of missiles, which can be used to detonate minefields that hinder your ship’s navigation. In addition, there are 3 difficulty levels, randomly generated items and collectables, and rewards, ship upgrades and music tracks to unlock.
Gene Effect is by no means an edge-of-your-seat adventure, but rather a relaxing, visually stunning explorer. The game might not be everyone’s cup of tea due to its slow-paced nature, but will provide players a few hours’ worth of game time for those who find it interesting. Many gamers don’t like the idea of spending money on mobile games, but at around R30 (or roughly $3.30), Gene Effect isn’t expensive at all. With a good storyline combined with pleasing graphics during planet exploration, it’s definitely worth the cost.