Who says Indie games aren’t time consuming? I’ve just lost the majority of a night’s sleep thanks to this little gem, so you can probably guess from that comment that I like it, a whole lot in fact, and so should you. Oh, and at the very reasonable price of 80 Microsoft Points, it’ll cost you less than a can of Coke.
This has to be one of the most insanely frustrating yet mind-blowingly addictive games I have ever played, honestly, I haven’t felt this way about an Xbox Live Indie game since Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp (let’s not go into that one).
You play the role of a little space martian (as far as I can gather) armed with a jetpack and some bombs. His sole aim is to escape from an ever-rising tide of boiling hot lava; so the only way is up. It’s not as easy as that though, each platform sees your little space friend attempt to blast his way through objects in his way, and solve the odd puzzle in order to proceed upwards. So time is definitely key, and that’s what this game is all about, timing. Not just on the player’s part, but on the level designer’s part too. The sight of a batch of TNT in the map is Apex’s take on a ticking time bomb, once the lava reaches the same level as the TNT, touching it, it explodes, creating mass havoc. This Lava + TNT reaction is usually place on the map and timed to go off when the player will be nearby, devilish isn’t it. So, there you have it, if you’ve got any sense, stay clear of the TNT when there’s lava near by. That, however, is easier said than done thanks to the level design in Apex being magnificent, and extremely ingenius at times. Every aspect of each map has been well thought out to make them challenging and enjoyable in equal measures.
Apex’s graphics remind me of the Mario games of old, and the sound follows the same pattern. So not only does it give you a warm feeling of nostalgia inside, it drives you completely bananas too. Seriously, this game is as hard as they come.
If solving puzzles and blasting your way through obsticles (without hurting yourself) while at the same time attempting to escape from an oncoming lava onslaught wasn’t hard enough, the game throws in the occasional turret for good measure, blasting missiles relentlessly at you like an angry ex-girlfriend. Thankfully, you come across a healthpack or a ‘Time Bomb’ from time to time, the purpose of the former is obvious so I’ll go into some detail on the latter. A ‘Time Bomb’, once you’ve collected it, will allow you to slow down everything around you for a few seconds, allowing you to get a brief, but significant advantage over your arch nemesis, the tide of burning hot lava.
Although still a mini-game by today’s standard, you can’t fault the playability value you get from Apex, I’ve lost count already. It will have you ripping you hair out in frustration, talking jibberish and possibly throwing blunt objects at the TV. It still beats watching ‘Come Dine with Me’ with the missus though.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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