Recoil Review

Recoil Review

Apr 18, 2011

Developer: Chipsteam
Price: US$0.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: Motorola Droid X

Recoil is a time-waster; it is an affair that lasts minutes and doesn’t overstay its welcome. However, it represents an interesting conundrum. As a simple, physics-based game featuring a dot amidst a scrambled mess of lines, are the extremely basic rules and visuals too simple to be entertaining? And, if so, is it at least fun? These are questions I keep asking myself as I play it.

Recoil is like playing some piece of abstract art where the lines and dots suddenly spring to life and become game pieces. The idea is to aim the dot at the lines, like aiming a cue ball in a game of billiards, then clear the lines by hitting them in a set number of “shots” to advance to the next level. You want to clear as many lines as you can on each shot to rack up as many points as possible. It’s brain-dead simple. So, thankfully, there a number of obstacles to make it more of a challenge. Scattered among the lines are a bunch of other dots, or “nodes” that can be cleared by eliminating the lines attached to them. The white nodes act as bumpers, sending your dot in other directions and potentially wasting your shot. The red nodes create new lines when you hit them, escalating the difficulty until it becomes impossible to clear all the lines. Obviously, you want to avoid those.

As for how the game controls, the dot’s movement can be somewhat unpredictable. You might be trying to make a bank shot to place the ball exactly where you want it, but, for whatever reason, it ends up bouncing off in a direction you didn’t want it to go. It’s a little frustrating. Making things more difficult, the dot tends to “teleport” at random. It just suddenly disappears and reappears somewhere else. The game does warn you that this will happen, though, so it’s not a bug; just a quirk to make the game more interesting.

That brings me back to my main point, though. Is Recoil fun, or just interesting? I think you can make arguments for each. Trying to get as many points as you can while working within the rules of the game to overcome the challenges presented is fun, but the game appeals to me on a different level.

Recoil makes me think of some abstract art paintings I saw when I was a kid. It reminds me of the way I’d look at those paintings, imagining some kind of ruleset in my mind to guide the world in that painting and how it would work if it were to suddenly come to life. What if those dots were billiard balls, and what if you ran the balls into the lines, allowing them to bounce all over the place? For a brief moment, it stirs the imagination and makes me forget that I’m just killing time on my phone. But, that moment passes, and I’m left looking for something else to do. That just about sums up the entire experience.