Temple of Spikes: The Legend ($5.99) by Tigrido is a tough-as-nails platformer that puts your reflexes to the test. If you enjoyed other challenging games recently, such as Thumper: Pocket Edition and Lichtspeer, then Temple of Spikes is another worthy addition to your collection.
As a person who grew up in the '90s, I can definitely say that platformers always have a special place in my heart. I had the NES and Sega Genesis consoles when I was a kid, so I have fond memories of playing whatever games my parents got me at the time, which were usually platformers. To this day, I love platformers, and I don't think that's ever going to change. While I prefer physical buttons for the genre, I still like to check out what platformers are on the App Store, so Temple of Spikes piqued my interest over the weekend. It's a solid game with just a few quirks.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Visually speaking, Temple of Spikes is beautiful with a unique 2D pixelated art style that serves as a nice homage to classic platformer games. It's a nice mix of 8 and 16-bit graphics, and the environments presented in the game are lush and wonderfully detailed. The colors in Temple of Spikes are a great mix of bright and vibrant with muted, earthy tones. Animations are smooth and fluid, with no issues of lag or choppy frame rates on my iPhone 8 Plus. The game's soundtrack is pretty fitting with an adventurous overtone that is reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the like. Overall, the developer did a great job with the visual and audio design of Temple of Spikes: The Legend.
Like many other platformer games, Temple of Spikes is level-based. At the moment, there are 30 levels, which you can easily see on the world map. However, even though it's only 30 stages, the game supposedly holds at least 50 hours of gameplay, so if you want a lengthy game, then this is a good contender. The goal in each level is to help an archaeologist explore the labyrinth of an ancient temple, find all of the riches that await you, and then make it out alive.
Of course, this is all easier said than done. The temple is full of spikes (obviously), lasers, dark critters, and many other dangers and traps. There are even challenging boss battles that await you. Your only guidance is the ghost of the treasure hunter that came across the temple before you. Each level is split up into several parts, but there are save points that serve as checkpoints, so if you die, you can just pick up from the last save point.
The controls in the game are simple enough, but the buttons do feel a bit clunky at times and not as responsive as I'd like. In the bottom left area are two directional buttons for moving left and right. In the bottom right are buttons for jumping, accessing time control powers from artifacts (slowdown, rewind), and other actions, like attacking and placing bombs once you unlock it.
My problem with the controls is the fact that the default placement of the buttons floats slightly above the bottom of the screen. Because of this, your fingers will actually cover up where your character is, so it's hard to see where you're going and what's coming up.
You can customize the touch controls in the settings by dragging where you want the buttons to be, or scaling them so the touch area is larger. However, even when I customized the controls, it still didn't feel quite right, and sometimes the buttons didn't seem to register my input properly, so I ended up dying due to unresponsive controls.
The default character in Temple of Spikes is the archaeologist. However, as you play, you'll collect coins, which you can spend on new playable characters. Some characters will have unique abilities, like collecting faraway items or keeping more blue hearts (time control power), so they'll have their own play style you'll need to adapt to. The better the character, the more it will cost to unlock. There are no in-app purchases in the game either, so you'll have to save up those pennies.
A speedrun hardcore platformer with cute retro graphics juxtaposed to extremely difficult level layouts.
Temple of Spikes is true to the developer's description of a "hardcore" platformer. The game has moments that require fast thinking, reflexes, and skill to get through, and it's definitely not for the faint-of-heart. The graphics look stunning on Retina screens, and the music is quirky and delightful to hear. The humor in the dialogue is a nice touch as well, all things considered.
As challenging as Temple of Spikes is, the controls need to be better for it to be great. The default layout doesn't work too well with me, and even with the option to customize, it takes a lot of tinkering around to get it right, which seems to be more trouble than it's worth, at least for me. I think it just needs better optimization overall to match the hardcore skill level that the game requires. Hopefully this is addressed in future updates.
Despite the flaws in the controls, I'm still finding Temple of Spikes to be a fun and challenging game. The visuals are cute and detailed, the music is excellent, and the difficulty is just right for what's considered to be "hardcore." It's not incredibly easy, but it's also not overwhelmingly hard. It's a good balance, in my opinion. The wide roster of characters also adds a lot of replay value to the game, especially since each one has their own unique traits. I just hope to see the controls better optimized in the future.
Temple of Spikes is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $5.99. There are no in-app purchases.