iO is a game that is easy to play, and difficult to master. Puzzles look simple enough at times but can leave you scratching your head at others. The limited mechanics at your disposal are used well and make for an interesting challenge to get from point A to point B. Puzzle games such as this are perfect for a portable as each challenge can be completed in a short time with top time goals showing it is possible to complete some levels in a short few seconds. There’s over 200 puzzles however, so there is plenty to test your skills with.
Gameplay and Design
Your objective is to roll this ball into the swirling, green goal at the end of the level. The way you get there is to roll either left or right and changing the size of your play piece. These mechanics are deeper than they sound however, you gain momentum rolling down a hill and use it to hop up ramps into the air or glide up walls to reach higher platforms. Changing size of the piece also lets you shirk to fit through small gaps, or grow to roll over irregular terrain. These size changes also add or subtract weight, and alter momentum accordingly. Physics are implemented quite well using the mechanics and have you carefully adjusting your new approach when you fail.
Some levels can be completed quickly if you are quick and/or clever enough with your approach. A few levels make you feel like you outsmarted the game, yet others leave you scratching your head as your timer rises up well past the goal times. Speaking of the timer, every level has a time goal that nets you either a bronze, silver, or gold metal if you complete the puzzle before the timer increases past the designated time for earning the medal. The only incentive for earning medals though is basically for players with obsessive compulsive tendencies who want to see every level completed with a perfect score. There are no leader boards to compare with players around the world so your collection of perfect medals is for your eyes only.
Every level is also unlocked from the start, so after you learn of the mechanics at your disposal, you can try out the harder levels right away if you wish. Stages themselves introduce different obstacles and workings. Some levels contain portals that require you to go in one end and pop out the other side in a completely different area of the map. Other levels have moving platforms that require precise timing. Rube Goldberg type levels are even in the mix. Falling off cliffs and into red lava causes instant death, and the level starts over, obviously.
The game is presented with calming music that fits the nature of the game. Relaxing, low-key tunes that let you think. The action takes place on a dark, starry void and platforms are a basic, one-dimensional color. Nothing is very eye catching here, but the game play is the prominent aspect of this purchase. Good thing it’s enjoyable enough to keep one engaged in playing through levels until they get stumped. It’s a good bathroom game.
iO is a fun game overall that I could honestly recommend it’s gameplay. However at the price it goes for on Vita, $7.99, I say it’s asking too much. It doesn’t change things up enough to where I feel it’s justified, especially since it’s a simple bathroom game that is indistinguishable from the iPhone version, which is $2.99. I assume there are higher fees to deal with to get a game onto the Vita rather than the iPhone’s App Store and cost is trying to be recouped. So, I recommend waiting for a sale.
Score: 6 out of 10
iO is a fun puzzle distraction for short periods of time, making it ideal for a portable platform. Its very basic presentation makes it easy to understand and just gets to the point. It’s asking price on Vita ($7.99) won’t make this an impulse buy, which would have suited this game better.