The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Dropchord starts with a simple mechanic – dragging a line across a playfield to destroy dots – and incrementally adds layers of complexity until the “game over” screen inevitably hits. Visually, it’s similar to classic arcade games, and even more contemporary titles like Geometry Wars. Unfortunately, it never gels in any satisfying way. The results are interesting for an hour or so, but it’s not likely to retain a permanent spot on your iOS device.
When you start, you’re told to hold your fingers down on two circles on the three and nine o’clock positions of a larger circular playfield. Once they’re both held down, a line forms between the two spots. That beam is the heart of Dropchord. As electronic music plays in the background, dots fade into view. You have a limited amount of time to drag the line over them, destroying them and earning points. Those dots appear in a variety of patterns, which requires you to think quickly and constantly adjust your beam's position and angle.
As you play, additional facets are revealed. First, red Xs appear. Cross your beam over those, and you lose any combo multiplier you’ve acquired. Xs and dots eventually move along tracks, and you have to assess their patterns and figure out the best way to approach. Later, you match dots by tapping them, or light up selected areas by spinning around the perimeter in a section that reminded me of Atari’s Tempest.
These little twists add a fair amount of variety to Dropchord, but the overall package failed to grab me. I loved the soundtrack (you can download it from iTunes), and the visuals are great as well. The backgrounds swirl and change in a funky lightshow that doesn't obscure the objectives. Ultimately, though, it’s a neat-looking (and sounding) game that’s easy to play and just as easy to forget.
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.