I described Terry Cavanagh as “either genius or madman – possibly both” when I reviewed the excellent VVVVVV last week, and he released what was officially recognised as one of the best smartphone games of 2012 in Super Hexagon.
As such, it made perfect sense (in my brain, at least) to check out Don’t Look Back (App Store/Google Play), thus checking off Terry’s entire smartphone arsenal (not including Super Gravitron, which is a minigame ripped from VVVVVV).
One of the odd things about reviewing games is the amount of time spent. It takes maybe 5-6 hours to blast through something like Thomas Was Alone, a further 90 minutes to put together the screenshots and write a few hundred words, and ultimately you’re left with about 5 minutes of reading.
Here I’m experiencing an entirely different phenomenon, as Don’t Look Back lasts all of 20 minutes. I know the App Store description says “short game”, but this is seriously short.
Not that that’s a bad thing! Far from it. Sometimes less is more (try telling that to Samsung), and while brief, Don’t Look Back throws in lots of neat little twists and whatnot, which is pretty much par for the course where Terry’s brain is concerned.
Don’t Look Back is essentially a retro platformer, with a pair of virtual left/right buttons in the bottom left, and the bottom right housing shoot and jump. Simple.
During your short trip, you’ll encounter various bosses, each with unique attack patterns; disappearing platforms, and pitch-black rooms – among other things.
In Don’t Look Back, as in VVVVVV, Terry does away with the notion of “lives” and “continues”, because really, where’s the fun in that? Why replay sections you’ve already completely? Instead, if you die, you simply start again on the same screen. Good.
The twist comes about half way through (*slight spoiler alert*) when we pick up a companion, and find ourselves tasked with running back through the game from right to left. If you happen to… wait for it… look back, the companion dies.
And that’s Don’t Look Back in a nutshell. It’s entirely free with “no in-app purchases or any of that nonsense”, so we can hardly complain about the length, and while undeniably brief, it’s a memorable little experience.
Oh, and the suitably atmospheric soundtrack deserves a mention, too. Nice work.
- It’s free with no IAPs
- The don’t-look-back mechanic
- The soundtrack
- Yeah, it’s really short
- The controls are maybe a tad fiddly on occasion
Summary: Short and sweet. I’ve spent significantly longer playing games about which I recall nothing, but I’m certain Don’t Look Back will prove to be a memorable experience. Go play it.
Developer: Terry Cavanagh
iOS compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Android requirements: 2.2 and up