AR-Tower ARKit game

AR-Tower Game Review (ARKit)

I really love playing puzzles games in augmented reality because they adapt well to any area size, and they just fun to play in this medium. I enjoy observing the puzzle in augmented reality as I try to solve it. Some puzzle games take good use of the player’s position to create an engaging and fun puzzle-solving experience.

One of those games is AR-Tower. It’s an ARKit puzzler in which you need to carefully remove X number of blocks from a block-tower without making it collapse. You can also maximize your score by moving “precious blocks” (marked with a star) within the tower and you’ll be rewarded with rings to show you mastery in a specific level.

I had a chance to play quite a lot of puzzle games in the past two weeks, just to name a few: PuzzlAR, AMON, Splitter Critters, ARise, Euclidean Lands, YuME: Alices Dream, Stack AR, and others.I have to admit that the optical illusion based puzzles were my favorite but I enjoyed playing every one of them.

AR Tower Gameplay

AR-Tower is a different game than those puzzlers. The first time I saw the screenshots of the game I thought it’s yet another “Stack AR” game, but it surely not. This game seems to be inspired by the Jenga game. Jenga can be played by one or more players, but AR-Tower is a single-player game. You can play it as a turn-by-turn game with another player locally, but it wasn’t designed for that. It would be nice to have another mode that allows the game to be played with another player so the person who topples the tower loses a point and make is like the best out of 5 matches-just a suggestion.

Let’s take a look at some indoor and outdoor gameplay.

 

Star block for bonus score in AR-Tower game
How do I get that star block out?

The gameplay is perfect for augmented reality because it requires the player to physically move around the tower to get a full picture of the tower’s  unstable points and to know which part can be removed from it without collapsing it.

Players will start at level 1 and unlock the next level after they have completed the previous one.

It’s a very relaxing game, even the music really puts you into that thinking mood. I really enjoyed taking my time walking around the tower, trying to see what is the best approach to solve it.

Game Physics

AR-Tower game screenshot
Look at the size of this tower! Please don’t collapse. Don’t worry, in a small space, the tower will be much smaller.

The physics work really well in favor of the game. You can tap and hold a block to slowly start pushing it out.  Lift your finger to stop.

The physics play a significant role in this game because it’s not like a game that you click to move a piece. In some of the levels, I needed to make tiny and very precise measured moves so that the equilibrium will tilt slightly in a certain direction. Doing so will allow me to pull out a part that I couldn’t pull out otherwise. It’s amazing to see how even the slightest move has an effect on the entire tower and you can see it even shaking as it starts losing balance. You can both pull and push a block, depends on which side you do it.

Some parts aren’t movable because there is too much weight on them. You need to release some weight in order to be able to pull them out.

That delicate and precise control over the blocks position is one of the most appealing parts of the gameplay mechanics.

AR Experience

Play AR-Tower game in a small place in the living room
Have only a small space? no worries, AR-Tower adjusts really well.

The AR experience was very good. When the game detects a relatively large surface, it will spawn the level even like 2m height. The good news is that the game doesn’t need a lot of space on the floor. It adjusts perfectly to any surface area. I played the game on the window, on my bed, in the garden, and on the floor and I was able to enjoy the game without any issues.

I first wished that there was a way to rotate the level, but thinking about it again, definitely not for this type of game that is built around physics-based balancing and environmental observation.

Repositioning of the tower can be easily done using an option in the menu.

There was one issue regarding the surface detection that I’ll talk about in the next section.

Issues and Things I Would Like to be Improved

I had one funny problem when I got to level 7. It also happened to me in level 6 as well. When I started the level, the blocks just collapsed straight from the beginning, I wasn’t even able to play it.

When I started the level, blocks fell from the top and built the level, but because of that, the physics just caused the entire tower to collapse.

I think that the cause of this is that if the ARKit game has a loose detection of the surface, it will spawn the tower slightly above the surface, causing it to fall down and therefore collapse. I was able to make it work just once.

This is certainly a problem in the game that shouldn’t exist. The tower should spawn exactly on the detect plane and maybe the physics should be activated after it’s positioned on the surface itself. I’ve sent a message to the developer about it. I don’t think this is done on purpose.

AR Tower level selection user interface
This is a great UI for level selection, I love it!

From what I could tell, there are 7 levels. I’ve reached level 7, but because of that issues, I couldn’t play it. I will definitely go back to try to maximize my score at the previous levels, I know I can do better.

I would like to see a global leaderboard for the game to see how my achievements stack up against those of other people from all around the world.

There are no sound effects for the blocks once they intersect other blocks, only a “beep” sound when you able to clear a block out.  I also would have like for the blocks to have a more realistic look, a wooden look can be really nice, something more interesting than just solid colors.

Another thing that I would like to see is the blocks persisting when they fall on the surface. It’s an augmented reality (AR) game after all. Right now, when a block falls on the floor or if the building is collapsed, they block disappear when they touch the ground. It would be nice to see them topple down on the surface, it will just be more fun to watch in my opinion.

Oh, by the way, don’t worry about bumping with your body into the tower, there is no collision detection with the camera in this game, so just feel free to move through it if you need to. I also want to applaud the developer for building such an original-looking level menu UI (push the blocks out of the level you want to play).

I do want to have many more levels. I can really find myself playing this game occasionally on my spare time.

Conclusion

AR-Tower is a fun and challenging AR puzzler that is all about balance. It uses environmental observation and realistic physics as its core gameplay mechanics. The good news is that this type of gameplay works exceptionally well in augmented reality.

The developer added its own twist by adding unique blocks for bonus score. This adds some added replay value as players will try to finish the puzzle against while maximizing their score.

In my opinion, some more optimizations, sounds and more realistic textures would give the game a more compelling look. Still, the core gameplay is what the game is all about. It’s a game that you can play even on your bed, the game is very responsive and adjusts the tower size base on the detected surface size.

It’s really a very fun puzzler. I highly recommend downloading and playing the game.

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