I’ve come across AMON like two weeks ago. I wanted to download it then but some of the more flashy ARKit games caught my eyes first. I first thought that it’s going to be a simple augmented reality puzzle game that I will finish in 5 minutes—Everything I thought about this game was wrong. This is in my opinion one the best ARKit puzzle games on the App Store if not The Best. It’s definitely one of the most fun games that I’ve got a chance to play in AR. In this review, I will explain exactly why.
What is AMON?
In AMON players will try to solve optical illusion puzzles in Augmented Reality. The puzzles themselves are made of ancient 3D scanned sculptures from museum around the world. After you solve a puzzle you get to learn more about it like from when it was made, who made it, etc.
If you don’t have time to read my in-depth review, here is a gameplay video for you that demonstrate what AMON is all about. There is more to it of course, so either read me review or download the game and find out.
Playing the game in Augmented Reality
Amon’s spatial puzzles are all designed from the ground up to take advantage of the Augmented Reality capabilities of ARKit, Apple’s augmented reality technology.
This is not the first time I get to play puzzle games which are built around the idea of the player positioning himself at a specific place in order to solve puzzles. Splitter Critters, ARise and YuME: Alice’s Dream has done a splendid job with it, but AMON takes it to a completely new level.
In AMON, the game places several pieces of broken sculptures and it’s for the player to position himself in a way that the sculpture appears in its complete form. Sometimes the game plays with you and you need to remove pieces that interfere or just don’t belong there.
As you play you’ll find yourself continuously changing positions, trying to make sense of all the pieces scattered around the room. Sometimes you recognize a face and a moment later you realize that it’s not the right piece and you should just drop it into the hole or ignore it.
You can also move the hole in which the sculpture initially emerged from.
Difficulty & Fun Factor
When I start playing, I finished the first two puzzles rather quickly, but believe me or not, I was stuck on one puzzle for over an hour. You had to see me, I was just moving around all over the place, changing the hole’s position every second. I was frustrated, I just couldn’t find a way to solve that particular puzzle. The funny thing is that puzzle had only two pieces (please don’t laugh). I already see some incoming “I solve it in one minute” comments in the comment section 🙂
This is exactly what so entertaining about this game. Unlike ARise and YuME: Alice’s Dream where the puzzles aren’t too complicated, AMON wants you to be challenged. It doesn’t want you to just turn 360-degrees around the game and solve any puzzle after a few second, oh no.
Sometimes it’s not the number of pieces that make it hard, it’s your perception of how to approach solving the puzzle that makes you stuck at a particular puzzle. In one puzzle I just didn’t understand the posture of the sculpture and I just made the wrong moves. It took me an hour to find out what the posture was, and I was able to solve that puzzle two minutes later. I still haven’t finished all the puzzles just yet and can’t wait to go back and break my head trying to solve those puzzles.
The game does have a large selection of puzzles. and those certainly provide very good value considering the difficulty of certain levels and the time it takes to solve them (at least that what it was for me).
You just can’t compare AMON to anything else The graphics of the statues are really nice. Both the textures and reflections made the 3D models look like a stone. That being said, this game is not about graphics quality. It seems to be developed with a clear focus on the core augmented reality gameplay experience. I could really feel that the developer focused on perfecting the gameplay experience rather trying to impress players with shiny visuals and cool-looking characters.
As I told you, I haven’t purchased it first because the other games looked more vibrant and inviting. That time, I did judged the book by its cover but I’ve learned my lesson today.
The gameplay experience in AR is by far more interesting, fun, and challenging than any other ARKit games that I got to play since I launched my website. Obviously not every AR game has to be all those things, but having all of those things just showed me how important is to nail the gameplay mechanics right int AR. f these are the first experience, I just can’t wait to see what’s coming out next.
Not every game that is fun to play on mobile can be ported or transitioned well to augmented reality. Now, you might not like puzzle games, that’s OK, but you need to at least try this game out and see whether it works for you.
Many games in AR do focus on a puzzle-solving experience because it fits that platform perfectly. I actually knew that there is a good chance that I will enjoy this game after playing other puzzle games like Splitter Critters, ARise and YuME: Alice’s Dream. Splitter Critters is an exception because it’s a challenging game, but in ARise and YuME: Alice’s Dream I remember wishing the game was more challenging. This is what puzzle games are about, challenging the players, making them think. Would you enjoy playing a puzzle game of four pieces and solve it in a few seconds? I guess not. You enjoy playing a 500 puzzle game because it’s more complicated and challenging.
The Overall AR Experience (inc. technical aspects)
The AR experience itself was very good but I have a few issues that I would like to talk about. I didn’t like having the game asking to scan the area in each new level. I wish I could just play it continuously without any interruptions.
I also would have liked to have the option to resize the level. I found myself having a bit of trouble playing it on a 2.70 square meter (29.0 square foot) area. Having said that, AMON is best experienced in large scale, so I do recommend playing it in an area larger than what I’ve played.
I did like that the game gave me the option to click on the hole underneath the floor (great effect by the way) and drag the statue pieces to a different location. I actually don’t know why other games to have this feature. In other AR games when I want to re-position the level, I need to scan for a surface all over again.
Another thing that I liked about the game is that you can actually bump against the sculpture’s pieces and they rotate a bit (they do get to their initial place eventually) and it does make the game more immersive because It gives the virtual objects in the game a more physical presence.
I’ve played it on the iPad and it plays beautifully on a large display. I haven’t tried it on an iPhone because I don’t own one (I wish I had).
There were some sculptures that didn’t come with any explanation, and you just get to see a marble tile with a close button at the top. Maybe it’s a bug, I’m not sure.
The game’s presentation is probably isn’t the best part of the game. You can’t really cmopare it to games like ARise in terms of level design and presentation. Haring said that, the thing that will captivate you is not related to the the visual quality but the actual gameplay experience. If you love brain-teasing puzzles, I have no doubt that you’ll love playing this game.
Let me explain it this way. I love playing chess, I just love the game and play it almost every day. I play the game on my Windows laptop and it looks like a game from the 90s, but when I play it, I am in another realm. Why? because the gameplay itself is so challenging and enthralling—the same with AMON, although AMO has more interesting presentation because of the optical illusions and the visual aspect is actually an important aspect of the game. Well, I hope you get my point.
Whether AMON could benefit from better visuals, I don’t know, but the beauty of this game actually lies within its simplicity. Sometimes too much screen clutter is unnecessary and can impair the gameplay experience.
Music and Sound Effects
A few words about the sound and the music. AMON was built with Binaural Audio to help you solve the puzzles. This a really cool feature and I recommend connecting headphones for the best gameplay experience.
The music in AMON is enchanting and adds to the overall great gameplay experience. I personally really liked the sound effect when you finally able to put all the pieces together, that satisfying “snatch” sound that notifies you that all the puzzle pieces were aligned correctly.
I think it would be really nice if there was an option for a vocal explanation about each puzzle. Not by default, but something that you can enable. It would be nice to hear a lecture about the puzzle as you try solving it.
An Exemplar of AR Game Design!
AMON is an extraordinary ARKit game that delivers a truly groundbreaking Augmented Reality experience. Some AR games don’t make use of the player’s physical positioning as part of the gameplay mechanics but this is exactly the thing that makes AR games different than any other games on other platforms.
AMON is among those AR games that will make you want to leave your couch and actually enjoy standing while playing a game. Sometimes I prefer just playing while lying on the couch. In AR, if that happens, this means that AR game wasn’t thrilling enough to keep me on my feet.
The game does have some issues but none of them are deal breakers in any way and can be addressed and resolved in future updates. I didn’t even mention that there is also a screen recording feature built-in and the game supports 13 languages (English, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Thai).
One last thing. AMON is an ARKit game and it requires an ARKit-enabled device running iOS 11.0 or later. For more information on compatible devices, please visit apple.com.
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