Despite their ever increasing popularity and relevance, I’ve never really taken any interest in mobile titles. They’ve just never appealed to me. Cyklus was to be my first real foray into playing games on iOS or Android devices beyond 5 minute sessions of the stock titles on the systems, resulting in it essentially being the deciding factor in my future enthusiasm for playing on my iPhone. Unfortunately, I’m still a skeptic.
As you’d expect from a mobile game with such a low price point, Cyklus isn’t by any means ambitious. Playing as a constantly rotating trifecta of Spaceships, you’re tasked with working your way through 100 different maze-like levels collecting points and powerups on the way, while avoiding the locational hazards and occasional patrolling enemies. It’s the kind of title that is supposed to be played again and again in short bursts, going for highscores and speedruns, but despite the simplicity it left a bitter taste in my mouth. The base premise of Cyklus constantly reminded me of the GameBoy Advance classic Kuru Kuru Kururin constantly as I was playing, which achieved little but serve as a constant reminder that Kuru Kuru Kururin takes the exact same idea with the same mechanics and applies them better in every aspect.
Of course, were the game essentially a reskinned Kuru Kuru Kururin I’d feel much more positively about it, it was a very simple but well executed and addicting concept that should translate over to mobile play perfectly in theory. However, I’d say that the transition was fatally wounded by a the hardware itself. Multiple times throughout play I found myself cursing the touch screen for its inaccuracy and inability to consistently register inputs. There were times where I felt that the speed of the spaceship and the fluidity of movement were massively affected by absolutely no movement on the touch screen, as well as times when furiously trying to move quickly resulted in the movement of a few metres at a snails pace. Put very simply; the controls are nowhere near consistent enough on a touch screen for the level of precision needed during the later stages.
Many of the problems that I found with Cyklus can be mainly attributed to the issues that I had with the controls, such as the strange difficulty spike I experience around 60 levels in. Until then, the stages were accommodating enough to pose little challenge even with the poor controls, but once thin twisting passageways and complex map designs began to be introduced, I found myself struggling to advance with any real consistency. Each level felt like a chore, with little to differentiate particular stages from one another and even less reason to replay. The idea of going back through for 100% collection on each stage is one that doesn’t appeal in the slightest when the levels themselves are all incredibly similar.
I do feel like I’ve been quite harsh on Cyklus, were I able to gel with the controls I know I’d have had a much better time with it, but when something as big as player movement is done so very wrong it’s hard to forget about it. I found myself really impressed with the graphics, that were vibrant and full of life, with the backgrounds and stages themselves being quite charming and enjoyable to look at (until the charm wears off 30 stages in). Complimenting this well, the music provided a very suitable and slightly trippy soundtrack to the whole experience.
Cyklus is incredible value for money on paper: 100 levels with the option of going for 100% completion or speedruns, impressive mobile visuals, soundtrack and addictive gameplay, but in reality I’m struggling to recommend the small investment to anyone. It’s a promising title crippled by poor implementation and calibration of the controls that overshadow anything that it managed to do right. Try the demo, if you can deal with the frustration then you may just find a rewarding and enjoyable title amongst the issues.
Cyklus is available on the iTunes App Store and the Android Market now for 69p. Check out the launch trailer for it below and form your own opinions!
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