The bold and the boo-tiful
Who said your problems are over when you die? That’s certainly not the case with George, a ghost with a terrible fear of the dark. This cute little spook will never receive eternal rest until he conquers his fear and unravels the mystery of a lighthouse’s unknown occupant. And it’s up to iOS users to guide this wayward spirit on his journey of self-absolution.
In good spirits
The game is a mixture between a 2D runner and a platformer. George the ghost is perpetually moving, despite his apparent lack of feet. Players are tasked with tapping the screen at appropriate moments to send George leaping, usually to access other platforms or dodge an obstacle. An interesting addition is a swipe gesture, allowing George to make a very quick dash to the right, as well as a reverse-swipe to allow backflipping. Mastery of these skills is absolutely crucial to success, because it won’t be long before levels will be insurmountable without them.
The levels themselves are interesting because they’re procedurally-generated. Though there are ten to play, you’re never dealt the same hand twice. It may be off-putting for players who favor rote memorization as a means to mastery, but it really does help to keep things interesting and fresh. The fact of the matter is, regardless of what kinds of levels are generated, you’re gonna die a lot. It’s very difficult stuff and there’s a high degree of reflexes demanded from it. If you’re not the patient type, expect your blood to boil a bit with this one. It doesn’t help that George himself moves at a rather breakneck speed. However, it was designed with high difficulty and split-second decision making in mind, and in that regard, it succeeds admirably.
Fortunately, there are a few lifelines in our ghost’s perilous journey. Scattered in the levels are skulls which function as the game’s currency. After a small fortune is obtained, you’ll be able to unlock skills and advancements, such as higher jumps. Additional characters are also unlockable, paradoxically breathing new life into a game about a ghost.
The game has a very beautiful aesthetic going for it. It’s bright, with curved objects that lack outlines, complimented by soft glows and assorted bloom effects. At times, it feels like a cartoon comprised of cut-outs. It’s also notable for its Día de Muertos influence, particular with regards to the patterns and skulls that appear throughout. The only knit-pick is that the game is currently built with iPhones in mind. It is playable on an iPad, but the graphics are enlarged and not as crisp as they are on a phone. If the developer can make a full-fledged iPad version in the future, I’d be very keen on giving this game even more love.
George: Scared Of The Dark is a very challenging game that’s perfect for settling accounts with your buddies. It’s like a cuter, more platform-y and more thought-out version of Canabalt. Though the high level of difficulty and demand for quick reflexes will turn some people off, there’s a legitimately charming game that’s apt at hitting your brain’s pleasure centers. And at such a cheap price of a measly $1.99, it’s hard not to recommend this tough little nugget of gaming goodness. Grab it for your iPhone or iPad by visiting its official page on iTunes.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: iOS (reviewed) ; Publisher: Wall West Ltd ; Developer: Wall West Ltd ; Players: 1 ; Released: July 18, 2016.
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of George: Scared Of The Dark given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.