Review: iO (PS4/PSV)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita
  • Xbox One
  • PC, Mac
  • iOS, Android
  • OUYA

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4, PS Vita
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • PlayStation TV Compatible No
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: iO
Format: PSN (PS4 536.5 MB) (PSV 470 MB)
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Gamious
Developer: Gamious
Original MSRP: $7.99
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
iO is a simple to pick up and hard to master 2D physics platformer. Players control a ball and change its size to affect the its weight and speed.

There is no story here, just the puzzle platforming. No explanation is given for the title. Interactive object?

The tutorial does a great job of preparing people for the puzzles they will face. They’re pretty straightforward and easy at the start and slowly increase in complexity. While this eases players in, it makes the tutorial feel too long.

Not to worry though, you can skip the tutorial at any time. In fact you can skip around the 225 levels all you all want. It’s great that you have the freedom to do this. No reason to keep banging your head against the wall over one level, just move onto the next one and come back later.

Realistically though, many people will play twenty to thirty levels and then skip to the more challenging ones. You could easily skip half the game this way.

The simple mechanics make it a joy at first as you cruise through the early levels. It also quickly makes it dull and repetitive. After a few hours many of the puzzles start having a “been there, done that” feeling.

… the only mechanic is to change the size of the ball …
While some of the early levels don’t take much skill to solve, those who want the gold medals will need precision and perseverance. For the completionist, there are medals that can be earned based on time. One slight mistake is all it takes to miss out on the gold medal. Luckily, one push of a button and the level is immediately reset.

The simplicity is a good idea, but it feels like it needs a few more mechanics. Many of the levels have only one puzzle. With a few tweaks the levels could consist of two or three puzzles. More level variety would keep the game feeling fresh.

To be fair to the developers, twists are added to the levels, especially in the challenging ones. Those levels are still held back by the fact that the only mechanic is to change the size of the ball.

At the start of each level, the camera is pulled out but quickly zooms back in. Depending on the size of level, the player will probably not be able to see it all. The camera zooms in even more as the ball gets smaller.

… you’ll have no idea if you’ll make the jump …
This is a problem for two reasons. It makes it harder to see what part of the level is coming up next. For a gold medal, flawless execution is required and this makes it much harder. Also, when doing long jumps the ball is small and the camera is zoomed all the way in. All you can see is the ball spinning against a starry night.

For a few full seconds you can’t see the landing and you’ll have no idea if you’ll make the jump. This becomes frustrating pretty quickly. I have stared at the screen for seven seconds until the game realized I had missed horribly and reset the level.

The Vita version of iO is the same as the PS4 version. The simple mechanics mean the controls do not require any of the traditional buttons missing from the Vita. While it is Cross-Buy it’s unfortunately not Cross-Save.

Being able to tackle the levels in any order does mean that you have to worry about carrying over progress. Yet, if you’ve worked hard to collect gold medals you’d want that to be reflected in either version of the game.

… the game quickly loses steam and is ultimately forgettable …
Visuals:
The graphics are very basic. The levels largely consist of the ball, bold geometric shapes, and little stars in the background.

Audio:
The background music is calming. Even when it tempo does pick up, the rhythm is still constant and soothing. Restarting a level does not restart the track which is nice. People will constantly be hearing the sound effects from changing the size of the ball.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
iO is game with a simple mechanic, changing the size of a ball to alter its speed and weight. The few twists added to the levels do very little to keep the game feeling fresh.

There is no story and not even an explanation of the title. A few more mechanics would have gone a long way. As it is, the game quickly loses steam and is ultimately forgettable.

Score:
5.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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