Almightree: The Last Dreamer ($1.99) by Crescent Moon Games and Chocoarts is a thrilling puzzle platformer that has you racing against the end of the world. While it originally aspired to be a Zelda-like puzzle game, the final product doesn’t carry many similarities to The Legend of Zelda, aside from the fact that the main character looks a bit like Link. If you enjoyed other games like Twisty Planets and Oceanhorn, then you will feel right at home in Almightree.
I love The Legend of Zelda, so I was immediately pulled in to Almightree when I saw the art style and gameplay videos from a while back. The 3-D game world in Almightree is outright stunning, and it feels almost like a console-quality game when you enter it for the first time. Even though the world is falling apart and ending, Almightree manages to look beautiful while doing so. The environments are beautiful with vibrant colors, textures, shadows, and other intricate details.
There are also hand-drawn, cryptic illustrations that you will find, which are essential clues to the plot, along with narrative cutscenes. The animations are super smooth and fluid, and I had no lag during the game on my iPhone 5s. The atmospheric soundtrack is engrossing and envelopes you into the realm, which is exactly what you want in this type of game.
Almightree, like many other puzzle platformers, is level-based. There is only one world, but it contains 20 stages for you to make your way across. While this does not seem like a lot at first, there are three difficulty levels: Easy (casual gamers), Normal (avid gamers), and Hard (expert gamers), which you can change at any time in the game’s option menu. If you are looking for a more relaxed mode, go with Easy. For most people, Normal should be challenging enough. But if you want a real test, then go for Hard, which is also the only mode that contains over 40 challenges to complete.
In each mode, you guide the unnamed protagonist to the end of the stage to awaken a seedling, and then finally the Almightree, in order to restore balance to the world, and maybe bring back what is lost. However, this is easier said than done, since the world is crumbling beneath your feet, you only have a certain amount of time to reach the seedling.
In the top left, you will see your progress, and how far away you are from the collapsing earth. If you are caught in a shaking zone, get out as fast as you can, otherwise you fall and will have to start over. Your score will depend on how fast you completed the level, how much of the world was still in tact, and the difficulty level you were on.
I’ve been playing it on Normal, and while it seems like it’s easy in the beginning, things do get pretty difficult after a few levels. Fortunately, things move at a gradual pace, and new gameplay mechanics are introduced as you encounter them. These new elements will include plants that break your portal path when you step on them, different types of blocks, and more.
The controls in Almightree include a virtual D-pad in the bottom left corner. Since the gameplay is based on blocks of earth, D-pad is made for simple movement going up, down, left, and right. You can only move along the blocks, and climb only one block at a time. Since you’re a dreamer, there is a button that allows you to cast a portal to physically warp a block to that spot. To move a block, you need to go stand in front of it and then tap on the button that appears.
As the game revolves around blocks, you will need to look carefully at your surroundings and plan your strategy of reaching the end in a timely manner. Mistakes will be made, so fortunately, Almightree has a “rewind” button in the top right that allows players to go back three moves. However, if you made a fatal mistake prior than the last three moves, then you will want to start over. While most stages will have a straightforward solution, the game does give players a bit of freedom with solving the puzzle, since there will be multiple paths and blocks to choose from later on.
The controls work for the most part, but I did not like the D-pad in particular. I found it to be a bit stiff and unresponsive at times, as it seems to have a small touch radius compared to other games. Personally, I would prefer having a virtual joystick for this game rather than directional buttons, because it would flow better. With the current control scheme, I often found myself moving to a spot I didn’t mean to go, climbing a block I didn’t want to climb, or even missing my landing. It proved to be a frustrating experience, especially when I’m fighting against the clock. I hope to see alternative control arrangements in updates.
Almightree also has full Game Center support for leaderboards and achievements. The leaderboards are for complete score, and there are 12 achievements to acquire. If the multiple difficulty levels and challenges didn’t bring enough replay value to the game, then the Game Center integration certainly will.
Aside from the inflexible movement controls, I’m enjoying Almightree: The Last Dreamer. I’m a sucker for puzzle platformer games, and this one is downright gorgeous. While it started out wanting to be a Zelda-like puzzle game, I’m glad it ended up to be something different, because it’s good enough to stand on its own.
If you’re a fan of the puzzle platformer genre and work well under a little pressure, then you should check out Almightree: The Last Dreamer. You can get it on the App Store as a universal download for $1.99.