Crooked Path ($1.99) by Ruvix is a puzzle runner that serves as an analogy for life itself. If you are looking for a true challenge and like to test out your reflexive skills, then Crooked Path is a game to check out. Be warned though — this one is clearly not for the faint of heart (or the easily frustrated).
If there is anything that mobile games have taught us from the past few years, it is that puzzles and runners are pretty popular. I mean, who doesn’t like to sit down with a relaxing puzzle or just kill some time seeing how far they can go? But what if you combine the two into a single game, and turn the difficulty level to 11? Well, that’s pretty much Crooked Path in a nutshell. It’s also has a rather transformative message about life, though it may get lost in the difficulty of the game.
Visually, Crooked Path is beautiful with a simple and clean aesthetic. In fact, it reminds me a bit of Monument Valley due to the pseudo optical illusions. The colors in Crooked Path are gorgeous, as the game features a nice range of soft pastels to bright and vibrant hues, as well as some fun light particle effects. Animations in the game are smooth and fluid with no lag on my iPhone 6s Plus, which is important because you have to be quick on your feet in this game. There is also an ambient, atmospheric soundtrack that is rather immersive, so I recommend using your best headphones. And while the gameplay itself can be a bit frustrating, the soundtrack can help you focus on the game itself and get you to solve the puzzles…as long as you don’t throw your phone.
Crooked Path is a level-based game, so you will have to solve each stage before you can gain access to the next chapter. The objective of the game is simple: guide your runner to the light, glowing portal at the end of a labyrinth. However, this is much harder than it looks, and since the controls just require one touch, you have to figure out the turn patterns and where you need to go while collecting the white orbs. It’s a puzzle that you must solve in order to reach the end and advance to the next level. And if you think that the game starts off easy enough, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it’s insanely difficult right from the get-go. As I mentioned at the very start — this is not for those who give up easily.
The controls in Crooked Path are easy enough: just tap on the screen at the right moment to turn left or right, since your guy runs automatically. However, the trick is that your runner can only turn one way when you reach certain forks in the road. I was confused by this at first, but then I realized that this is part of the puzzle aspect — observe and memorize the turns that you take at those forks, and remember them for the next attempt, because you’ll be failing a lot. Once you get the pattern down and time your turns for the correct moment, you should be able to reach the end goal, though it will take you numerous attempts for each stage. And new mechanics are introduced as you go, like buttons that extend certain paths, so it only gets more interesting as you go, if you can make it, anyway. Fortunately, you aren’t penalized for falling and failing, and there is no time limit, so you can go at your own pace.
So how does Crooked Path relate to life itself? It’s pretty straightforward: the path to your destiny is not going to be a straight one. As cheesy as the line sounds, it’s true. The game presents you with many different routes that you could take, but you have to use your head and reflexes to find the right one. And like life, the game is not easy. Life is all about experience and learning from your mistakes, and that is just what you can expect from this game. I can only imagine what the rest of the game will be like after spending about 30 minutes trying to complete the first stage.
After my testing of the game for this review, I have some thoughts. First, I love the visual style of the game, because it’s nice and clean, so it doesn’t look too busy and distracting when you have to focus. The music is soothing, immersive, and helps you focus. I enjoy puzzles and runners, so the mix of both of these genres is interesting and refreshing from the typical App Store fare these days.
However, I think the difficulty level of the game is set way too high right now, because it feels almost impossible right from the get-go. I was persistent enough to complete the first stage, but I can see many others (especially casual gamers) giving up rather quickly. I know that the game is to serve as a metaphor for life, but I don’t think it’s fair to start it off so hard. The game moves super quickly, giving you just a split second to react to turns, and it’s rather frustrating after a while. Honestly I think the game would be better if it started off a tad slower, or at least give you a way to practice before going in to the real stage. Either way, I just think the game is brutally difficult right now and rather unforgiving, so it could definitely use some tweaks in game balance.
If you’re a casual gamer who just wants something fun and relaxing, then I do not recommend Crooked Path. But if you are a hardcore gamer who wants a real test and is up for the challenge, then by all means, grab Crooked Path. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Crooked Path is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV for just $1.99. There are no in-app purchases.