iO is a physics platformer in which players must simply move a ball through an obstacle course, reaching the goal as fast as possible. To do this you’ll need to grow and shrink the ball in order to gain speed, fit through tight areas, and gain big air off ramps. It’s a really simple concept that requires a good deal of finesse to work through some of the more challenging stages.
iO’s ten tutorial stages should teach most of what’s needed to understand how to properly control the ball. From there the game offers 150 stages and an additional 75 Irresistible stages that offer an even greater challenge. What sticks out to me about iO is twofold, 1. most of the levels are pretty creative and 2. the game really made me think of all the different ways I could use the ball’s momentum to my advantage. The act of actually controlling the ball is simple enough, but there’s some higher level techniques (wall climbing) that are needed to complete some of the more challenging courses. It all needs to be done with a certain level of finesse as well, a more gradual change in size is often times far more effective than a more sudden change. As the ball grows and shrinks, so too does the camera zoom in and out. If the ball is small the camera is zoomed in so far that it can be hard to see much of the surrounding area, and in some of the later courses this can lead to a little frustration from trial-and-error.
The obstacle courses in iO are made up of a handful of different color-coordinated components. Blue walls represent the basic makeup of any given course, yellow shapes can be moved by the ball to create bridges or clear a pathway forward, dark blue platforms move along a set path, glowing purple lines act as portals, and red signifies an instant death. These are introduced at a steady pace and are eventually used to make for some really interesting courses. Some of my favorites revolved around three yellow circles that offered just enough room for the ball to fit snugly between them. This allowed for a sort of vehicle-like segment in which the ball would ride through a level whilst inside a larger contraption. One level in particular (Mission Impossiball) made for a really fun use of this mechanic.
Each level is timed and grades on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze scale, although the lack of online leaderboards feels a bit like a missed opportunity here. Also of note, every level is unlocked from the beginning, if any one course is proving too difficult, it’s easy to just switch to something different. Considering just how difficult some stages can get, this is certainly something that I appreciated.
iO works great in situations where you might only have a few minutes to work through a level or two. It’s fun to jump in, solve a course, and move on to the next. The focus on momentum makes this feel pretty unique and the game’s 225 courses get a good deal of mileage out of the grow/shrink mechanic. Considering this is a game that I only heard about a week ago, this turned out to be a pleasant little surprise.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Creative level design
- Easy to learn/difficult to master
- Mission Impossiball
What I Dislike:
- Some trial-and-error that can be frustrating in later stages.