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Melodive Review

By Dave Flodine, on March 12, 2013


Melodive
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • An audio/visual experience.
  • Lack of UI leads to immersion.

CONS

  • Having to read the help to find out the goal and mechanics of the game.
  • Lacks game-ness.

VERDICT

More of an experience than a game (containing challenges and goals), Melodive is an otherwise interesting trip worth taking.


  • Full Review
  • App Store Info
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As the medium matures, discussions about what constitutes a game or not are getting more prominent, as the traditional tropes of win states, lose states, and game mechanics get overshadowed or left behind by narrative and audio/visual experiences. This new balancing of how some games are put together, and what they elicit from their players will continue as more and more games like Melodive are released. There is a high score game hidden in what this title offers, but the mechanics and goals are not explained to the player, and really in this case, it's completely about the journey.

You find yourself in a cave, and the goal is to see how far down you can go. The game ends when either you run out of steam or spend too much time smacking yourself into the the rocky structures strewn around. There are streams of colored crystals floating around that act as boosts, and tapping and holding the screen will enable this boost. All other travel is handled by using the tilt controls. Because the game world acts as sort of a cave in space, it's easy to get disorientated, but if you travel in the opposite direction as the main light source, you'll be heading in the right direction (the lights from the crystals and mushrooms don't count).

So because this is an audio/visual experience, you would expect that a lot of time and care was put into the presentation. This is true. The lighting effects are beautiful, and the cave world itself is lonely, and yet full of wonder, instilling an explorative curiousity in the player. The sound is emergent and ambient with a low track playing in the background, punctuated by interaction with everything you come across, but unlike other games with this sort of audio, it's use is not as tight and immersive as it probably should be. The developer has also made a big deal about how quickly the game loads and performs, and this should be commended as the whole experience is smooth as butter.

With no real explanation of how the scoring system works (and the mechanics themselves were only discovered by searching out the help section of the menu), it appears that Melodive is trying to not only ignore its game trappings, but only include them out of a sense of obligation. That said, it's an interesting experience that a lot of effort went into creating. It's a nice world to visit, but I wouldn't want to stay there.

Screenshots

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