Blast-A-Way Review: It’s a Blast!
Illusion Labs has returned to the genre of puzzle games after their foray into Touchgrind, and they’ve delivered a top-notch physics puzzler in Blast-A-Way . With its 3D rendered graphics and clever design, it’s sure to become a notable example of the genre.
Even before you begin playing, the polished 3D look of Blast-A-Way will strike you. Each 3D-rendered environment is presented on a stark background, and all the elements are sharply rendered and geometrical. It’s got a real style to it, and they’re true to that style throughout. Word of warning: these gorgeous graphics mean lots of rendering power, and on older devices (like my son’s iPod 3rd gen) this game will eat the battery life.
Gameplay itself is fairly straightforward. On each level you must make it to the exit point after collecting three lost “Blockies”. The way you navigate through each level is by making use of bombs. There are simple Impact Bombs (explode on contact), Sticky Bombs, and Teleporters in the early stages, each keyed to a certain color of block. Bombs only effect the color that they are, so sometimes getting to the right bomb can be half the challenge. Figuring out what sort of bomb to throw where and when is the primary puzzle mechanic in this game.
Getting to the goal is the primary victory condition, but the puzzles become more difficult when you try to also collect the three lost Blockies on each level. Like the stars in many other physics puzzle games, these Blockies aren’t required to complete a level, but collecting a certain number of them unlocks more levels. I generally found myself going for all three Blockies the first time through.
Collecting Blockies and completing the levels is easy in the first set of worlds, but Blast-A-Way’s difficulty level start to rise nicely as the game progresses. More types of bombs are introduced, like color sponges and color changers, and having to manipulate colors adds a satisfying level of added challenge. You’ll find yourself restarting levels more often, for sure!
The physics of Blast-A-Way are certainly a cheat, but at least they cheat consistently. For example, if a Blockie is stuck in a color brick, and you blow up that color brick, the Blockie will always fall safely to the right spot, regardless of where you stick the bomb. Consistent physics is important to completing many of the challenges. Be wary, though; poorly thrown bombs that explode off-target can and will knock Blockies — or you! — out of the game.
Like any good 3D game, you need to manipulate the board in all three dimensions in order to figure things out; but the panning, moving, and zooming in Blast-A-Way never felt intuitive and too often would get in the way. The controls are too sensitive, and the camera too fixed, to be 100% functional. I can’t count the number of times I’d try to throw a bomb on top of something, only to find out that my touch had registered on the side of the object; or tried to navigate my robots past an obstacle, only for them to be caught on it because of the angle of vision. And it’s far to easy to accidentally swipe the board completely out of view with an errant thumb. It’s not enough to ruin the game, but it never stopped being a noticeable annoyance.
Blast-A-Way is a whole lot of fun to play. At $4.99 it’s a little expensive in the genre of physics puzzlers, but note that the game has literally ZERO IAPs, a refreshing change in the modern App Store. If they could just get the touch controls adjusted in an app update, this game would shine even brighter.
Our Score: 4 out of 5.