Manowar ($1.99) by Lachlan Nuttall is a physics-based puzzle game that will keep you busy for minutes, or hours, at a time. If you enjoyed games like Domino Drop and Odd Bot Out, then Manowar is worth a look.
Throughout my time here at AppAdvice, I’ve checked out hundreds of games, but my favorite genre will always be the puzzle category, especially when physics are involved. There’s just something about these puzzles — they’re deceptively simple in concept but always prove to be a challenge, and I love to give my brain a workout. I mean, it benefits my critical thinking skills in real life, doesn’t it? When I got an email in my inbox about Manowar, I was intrigued, and pretty grateful since I don’t think I would have discovered this awesome little game otherwise.
Manowar is a stunning visual treat, and definitely the first thing that caught my attention when I was looking at it on the App Store. The game features gorgeous, sea-themed background images and colors, including some subtle animations that are soothing to watch. The ghost ship, named Manowar, is made up of what appears to be wooden planks, and the layout of the ship is different on each stage. It’s loaded with various cannonballs and cannons, and everything is incredibly detailed with smooth frame rates. The original and atmospheric soundtrack is pure ear candy, and tops off the spooky feeling of the game (it’s a ghost ship, after all). If you prefer to listen to your own music while playing games, Manowar lets you do that, or you can just turn off sound and music entirely.
Like other puzzle games, Manowar has levels that you need to beat chronologically in order to progress. At the moment, there are about 48 stages to go through on the surface, divided across three chapters (more bonuses can be unlocked). While this does not seem like a lot, the game is fairly difficult, so it will take some time before you beat the game. The objective is to get all of the cannonballs loaded into the cannons and launch them. As the developers called it, it starts off easy but gradually becomes a “maddening hell.”
Controls in Manowar are intuitive and straightforward, and allow the game to be played with one hand. By default, you will tilt your device to tilt the ship, causing the cannonballs to roll in that direction. When a ball gets to the cannon, it will start glowing, indicating that it is ready to fire, which is done with a tap. When this happens, it causes the other balls to jump. While this sounds easy, players will soon discover that you need logic, lateral thinking, precise timing, and great hand-eye coordination in order to succeed in the game.
Alternatively, the other control scheme you can use is “drag.” This lets you swipe your finger to make the ship lean on one side rather than tilting your device. I felt that this is a bit more unintuitive, but perhaps I just need more practice.
Since there is no scoring mechanic, you can take your time on the levels, and there will be plenty of restarts. There is Game Center integration for leaderboards and achievements, though, so replay value is high. The leaderboards are for how many levels you’ve solved, as well as chapter speed-runs if you’re good enough. The 15 achievements will keep you coming back in order to get them all.
I’m still in the early stages of Manowar, but I’m loving it so far. It is beautiful, the music and sound effects are fantastic, controls are intuitive, and the gameplay is simple but challenging. It gets frustrating at times, but I keep playing because I’m determined to get past my wall. This is definitely worth checking out this week.
I highly recommend Manowar if you’re a fan of physics-based puzzle games that look like works of art too. Manowar is on the App Store as a universal download for $1.99, and the best part is the fact that there are no in-app purchases for this indie title.