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Review: V is for Vortex

December 3, 2009

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Update

V is for Vortex has been updated three times since the review below, with the most recent update finally adding some serious items to change the game completely. 36 new levels have been added bringing the total to 54, and the developer isn't stopping until he passes 100. Also a save system is now included which was a major missing feature. On top of that a new control method is included providing on screen controls, and allowing you to choose the portal color you shoot. Seven achievements are also included as well as leaderboards, but those aren't in-app. The most serious problem for me was the lack of a save system. You want to play the levels in order where you left off from, and now you can. Controls were also a problem, but now definitely rectified with on screen goodness, and the ability to choose which vortex you're firing. Finally there were only 18 levels which you could go through pretty quickly. Well now there's a total of 54 making it well worth only $0.99. Now there are tons of levels with all new tactics needed in the additions, and aren't just slight variations. The update moves this game to a should buy, and even higher if you love Portal.

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Overview

V is for Vortex is the second game from Jonathan Mulcahy, How I Hate the Night Studios, continuing his series of letter is for object games. The game is based on the super popular game Portal, and this is the first portal type game for the iPhone. Visfor_story If you’re not familiar with Portal, you shoot a portal to one place, and shoot one to another place, and walk into one, and come out of the other one. In the actual Portal game, the portals have to be attached to walls, but V is for Vortex allows you to shoot them anywhere on screen. You're goal is transport around obstacles to make it to the exit of each level.

Features

The game isn’t feature rich by any means, but does have some good things going for it. 18 levels are included at first launch, and a simplistic story too where you wake up in a strange lab with a weird gun. Story mode is included to progress through the levels in order, and free play mode allows you to play any of the 18 levels. Visfor_new_controls For movement its accelerometer based, and you tap a point you want to fire a vortex to. One of the best features is that the solo developer is very active in updating, and open to suggestions. He’s already almost finished with the 1.1 update which will provide a brand new control option that is touch based (see image). Also the developer has claimed, “I'm going to be releasing 1 update every month or so with 18 levels each until I hit 100. If sales are really good however, I'll keep going. But there will be a minimum of 100 levels.” The 1.1 update adds 18 levels which will also include some where portals have to be attached to walls. Visfor_lasers

The Good

V is for Vortex is all about the gameplay. The fun of Portal is now on the iPhone. Each of the 18 levels provides a new challenge, and will require some thinking. Rather than blasting through levels, it’s more of a puzzle brain teasing type game. There is a nice balance between challenge and fun, and luckily none of the levels are outright stump worthy. You’ll want to play through all 18 levels, and you will have a good time doing so. It’s great to fire around vortexes to make it through treacherous levels. Visfor_button Again just like Z is for Zombie the hand drawn art style is wonderfully unique, and adds so much personality to these games. It’s great to see your little stick figure character, the blue and orange portals, and even lasers. The animations flow well for being hand drawn, and the graph paper background is still great.

The Bad

V is for Vortex right now only has 18 levels, and you can get through them relatively quickly. The current accelerometer controls, and not being able to choose the type of portal you shoot make it a bit of a hassle. The good thing is that both of these problems will be fixed soon. Visfor_obstacles Just like Z is for Zombie this game doesn’t have a save system. The developer rectified this by unlocking freeplay so when you enter the game you can just go to the level you left off on. Also the game is a little different than Portal without vortexes being attached to walls, but I liked it. The sound effects leave a lot to be desired with just a whooshing sound, and not much else.

The Verdict

V is for Vortex is another solid game from Jonathan Mulcahy. Finally portal type gameplay is on the iPhone, with his wonderful hand drawn style. The gameplay is fun and challenging, but there are currently only 18 levels, and the controls are awkward. Updates are coming, and we will keep you notified if they improve the game. As it stands I think this one is worth considering for $0.99, and has great potential with updates.

Mentioned apps

$0.99
Z is for Zombie
Z is for Zombie
Jonathan Mulcahy

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