Astray Review

Astray Review

Apr 15, 2014

With wearables and smartphones hitting the next level, and hardware components that are beginning to match standalone counterparts, games like Astray are inevitable. Or at least, they should be.

Astray is an interesting, augmented reality-assisted labyrinth game that touches on some interesting gameplay elements. The game walkthrough underscores some of the highlights, and ties in the important aspects together.

It would be a disservice to not lead with the fact that Astray is a 3D labyrinth game at heart; there is the maze, the metal sphere and the target location. The environment could be described as vaguely medieval, with a relatively well designed background imagery. Labyrinth core concepts are present: obstacles, gates and such. The dangers include stuff like colored portals that end the level unsuccessfully if the sphere falls into them.

The key part of the game is the picture; indeed, the gameplay starts with image acquisition. The first part of astray1setting up a game is taking a flat object (a piece of paper, a large envelope, etc.) and getting it within the program sights. It gives a visual score of how good the image is (with three stars being the best), and then, the game uses the object as a movable part of the game. The trick is that instead of moving the device, you keep it stationary, and use the underlying paper to guide the sphere to the right hole. Progress is timed, and solving one puzzle opens the next.

The game is well thought out idea. However, in practice, some things felt a bit weird. One thing was the picture taking mechanism; it seemed quite picky. The other issue is that by default, I ended up holding two things in the air with each hand, which can be uncomfortable over time, especially since I was using a tablet.

This is one game that I feel is worth waiting for, and the developers seem responsive (having already fixed a gripe I had in the last update). It’s free and interesting; how can one not like it?

Big kudos with regards to the musical score, one of which I understand was performed on a penny whistle by the lead developer.