Move AR Puzzler

“MovE” – Game Review (iOS)

Today I’ve downloaded an AR game called “MovE”. “MovE” is a physics-based puzzle game in which the player needs to guide a ball using a laser pointer to an end-point in each level. More complex levels and mechanics are introduced as the user progresses.

Gameplay Experience

“Move” is designed similar to other simple AR puzzlers that I’ve played like AR Bounce, Euclidean Lands, and Mazelith, in a way that it sports a very simplistic yet artistic level design. The game is also followed by relaxing music that helps you concentrate.

Guiding the ball through mazes and obstacles isn’t easy as it might look.  This is that type of game that literally requires steady hands and pin-point accuracy in order to succeed.

If you fail, you start from the beginning. I know it’s a bad comparison, but in that particular point it brought me back to the horror experience that I had playing Bloodborne (PS4), where I died, I had to start from the beginning all over again. It can be really annoying in time, and there are no checkpoints, or at least I haven’t reached to a point where there are.

At some point, I just felt that I had enough (for the day). The thing is that I liked the physical aspect, but when it’s tight to such little hand movements, it’s not that great. It’s like aiming with a gun at a target when you position yourself far from the board, each slight movement can translate to a larger movement at the far hand. However, if you play too close, you lose the maneuverability option which is also required to some degree. If the ball touches the walls, it’s game over and you’ll need to start the level from the beginning.

This is the type of games that I wish I had some aim-assist, but of course, this will just ruin the idea of the game. Having checkpoints would be nice though.

Comparing it to Tiltball for Merge Cube

Now I did play somewhat similar AR game that implemented this type of gameplay better, or at least I enjoyed it more than I enjoy playing this one. This game is called Tiltball for the Merge Cube.

In some way, you can look at the game “MovE” like a meze tilt ball game that plays on a flat surface rather than on a 3D multi-facet object. Instead of using rotational movements to tilt the ball you use horizontal and vertical movements with slight rotational movement. The rotational movement can be replaced by moving your arms or even your own body in the direction you want to move the ball to.

I found Tiltball for Merge Cube to be a far superior experience for a few reasons. In Tiltball, you do make fine movements, but the movement is very tight to the physical movement of the cube. It, therefore, felt more responsive and I felt more in control. It also felt that I had more close control of how the physics affect the object without that feeling like am remotely control something that indirectly affects the pathing of the ball.

Second, I could play the game with my arms close to my chest, thus supporting my muscles for those precise small movements. Third, I could rotate the game (and it’s actually required) around to have more control of how the ball travels on the ground. Tiltball for Merge Cube also had checkpoints, which means that it felt less frustrating when failing, but the game still poes some really tough challenges.

In “MovE” I felt like a person who is holding a gun and needs to aim at the bullseye area on the target for a long period of time. I see myself as a person that had good hand-eye coordination and I felt that with Tiltball I represented well and in “MovE” the controls were a bit loose. I think this is mainly because in Tiltball my hands where both close to each other and held well against the Marge Cube, whether with “MovE”, the hands were spread apart with a less comfortable hold of the device (iPad in my case). This might suggest that playing this game on a smaller device might give an improved experience.

On the positive side, the game features more than 40 levels with new mechanics introduces every few levels. I liked the level design and judging by the game’s screenshot at some levels that I haven’t reached, there is a use of verticality which looks nice.

AR Experience

I think that this type of game would cool as a room-scale AR game where you need less pinpoint accuracy but need to make the ball travel through obstacles that use more of the 3D space of the room. Maybe also adding some sort of a virtual item that feels more physical that can control the ball, similar to AR Block Party game.

In AR, I found that fine movement on a small scale isn’t that great of an experience, compared to making movements that require wider and fuller physical body movements. It’s more fun where you can use the entire body for repositioning and have more space for controlling the movement in the real world space. I think AR Block Party and other Jenga-like AR games are a good example of that.  The movement of the blocks require some fine movements, but there is more room to control how you physically interact with the virtual object. I can move my body to different areas, inspect it from different angles, use my whole body and hands as a controller to fine tune the movement of a block.

The other thing is that in AR Block Party, you have that “extending arm” object that makes the interaction with the virtual objects more physical.  Of course in “MovE” the interaction is done without directly touching the ball, and nothing is wrong with it. It’s just that the overall gameplay experience in AR is less appealing to me with that particular design. Having said that, I can’t lie saying that I haven’t felt satisfaction when I was able to finally make the ball reach the endpoint, it did feel good.

I still think a floaty puzzle design like the one used in Mazelith better fits the AR medium. I can imagine the same similar game like “MovE” by moving the ball with a magnet-like object (or something similar) and seeing the ball falling fast down a ramp and jumps up in the air, then I need to use the game controls to control its landing. All that happens in a floaty relatively large-scale level design. You know those dominoes tracks where a ball starts at one place and lots of things going on until the last domino pieces fall, something similar, but also interactive.

Conclusion

As you can see, my experience with “MovE” wasn’t great. I have nothing against slow table-top games but this game didn’t have any great AR presentation either. The game is definitely challenging and there is plenty of content considering the time that it might take you to finish some of those levels.

The idea of having the device as a controller for all the interaction in the game is a welcomed feature and it does make me feel more physically connected to the gameplay. I actually felt like I had telekinesis powers 🙂

Having said all that, I still think “MovE” brings something else to the table, something that I haven’t played before and I think that type of physical gameplay experience will appeal to players who are into this type of games.

Buy the game from Apple App Store here. Requires ARKit compatible iPhone or iPad mobile device running iOS 11.0 or later.