I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Whoever came up with this whole black-foreground-against-a-coloured-background thing has a lot to answer for. Once the domain of the indie gem, such games are now a dime a dozen.
Gree Inc’s el marks yet another example, and, eh, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Join me below as I try to gather my thoughts.
el is described on the App Store as a “simple side-scrolling flying game.” Yeah, that sounds about right.
More specifically, the action scrolls from left to right, and by holding your finger down on the screen, you can float for a bit. The twist is that you’ve got a limited amount of juice with which to float, and said juice also acts as your health meter.
The second mechanic invites you to swipe the screen to move in a little gust; essentially you can sit in the left, middle or right of the screen at any one time.
Needless to say there are all sorts of projectiles flying around, too, including bombs and air balloons and junk. The sky be filled with flying debris, and it’s very much in your interest to avoid it all, ditto any buildings along the bottom of the playing area.
And that’s el in a 200-word nutshell. I think I’ll start with the obligatory cons before moving on to the pros.
Well, for starters, el is remarkably short (there are only 10 levels, technically), though – to be fair – it’s free, and there aren’t any adverts or in-app purchases. Fair enough.
Less forgivable, the game itself isn’t all that great. It’s very much a case of style over substance, and you can blast through most of the game without worrying too much about the aforementioned gust mechanic.
That is, until you get to the nigh on impossible last level, a face-punching slog that remains incredibly brutal even when you’ve memorised the patterns of the flying junk.
I’m not entirely sure what the message is, either. Having helped various people throughout the course of the game, our child protagonist is ultimately (***spoiler alert***) shot and subsequently spat upon by some crazy guy in an alleyway. True story. But at least a pigeon comes down and leaves a feather beside his corpse, right? Right?
On the whole, el is a little bit like Limbo crossed with BADLAND, the only problem being that Limbo is a cross-platform classic, while BADLAND remains one of the best mobile games to date. el, on the other hand, is simply… fine.
Pluses: I quite like the style; again, it’s free; and there’s something oddly endearing about the weirdness of it all. Seeing those Japanese names pop up at the end certainly explained a lot.
- Very stylish
- Completely free
- Gotta love that Japanese weirdness
- The game itself isn’t great
- The gust mechanic is largely redundant
- The last level will make you want to die
Summary: I find myself really wanting to like el, but, well, it’s not particularly good, really. It is, however, a strikingly odd - and probably memorable - little experience, and one that’s worth checking out considering it’s entirely free. Make sense? Don’t worry; I’m baffled, too.
Price: free @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimised for iPhone 5.