Follow the Great Shaman!
Gametopia Games is a relatively unknown studio whose first contribution to the world of mobile gaming comes in the form of Clippox Exodus. The fledgling studio, based out of Spain, is taking a chance on their first production, relying on 2D platforming with a healthy dose of puzzle elements and alluring, hand-drawn artwork to craft a spellbinding debut. Having been exposed primarily to Spanish markets up until now, Clippox Exodus seems to be picking up steam in the worldwide market thanks to its unique sensibilities and creative approach to familiar mechanics. After two long years in development under the watchful eyes of its young creators and artists, it's finally come to the App Store. And while it's not perfect, it's an impressive example of what an independent studio with talent, heart, and burning ambition can put together.
Clippox Exodus follows a mystical being known as the Great Shaman, who actually resembles a bale of hay much more than any magical tribesman, on his journey to prevent the extinction of a small race of endangered Clippox, a race who previously took up residence in a sheltering tree. But a passing storm blew through, forcing the Clippox to become exposed to all that's dangerous in the world, putting each and every one of their lives in danger. The Great Shaman has taken it upon himself to guide the fledgling race to safety, to the mythical Promised Land to seek a out a new home for the Clippox.
Across varying terrain ranging from dimly lit forests to fiery, the Shaman guides the Clippox on a perilous journey to safety, hurdling plenty of obstacles (and enemies) in his way. The Shaman is in control of four different magical powers that are unlocked throughout the course of the adventure: fire, lightning, ice, and earth. Each are controlled via one push of the respective button, located on the bottom right of the screen. You'll assault an enemy with a frozen blast, roaring fireball, or equivalent attack via the elements at your disposal. On the left side of the screen a blue button may be pressed to activate a barrier that will shield you from enemy attacks. It only lasts a short while, so when facing several enemies at once it's best to be prudent when deciding on a time to deploy.
It's unfortunate that there are never usually more than three or four enemies on-screen at once, as combat is swift, simple, and fun. Incinerating or freezing enemies never ceases to please, and it's where the touch control truly shines. Unfortunately, navigating each level's plentiful traps, water, and pits is nowhere near as on point. There is a lack of precision that persists when clearing a pit or attempting to keep safe from other oncoming obstacles, and when you die, you're always forced to start over at the beginning of each level. There are no checkpoints, and there is no leeway. You either fight with the frustrating controls or start over. And the awkward placement of the jump button at the bottom right of the screen, right next to the elemental powers, was a puzzling design decision at best.
Still, despite the frustration and annoyance you'll inevitably be feeling once you've been sent back to the start plenty of times over (and the difficulty seems to ramp up strangely quickly as well) you can't help but return for a little more -- a few more peeks at what Gametopia Games has so delicately crafted. The fantastical world with entirely hand-drawn illustrations, vivid hues, and storybook aesthetics is striking, and it's obvious an abundance of love went into making this game a reality. And the enchanting soundtrack is quite pleasing as well, available on the Clippox Exodus website for free should the tunes resonate with you enough to want to take them on the go.
Clippox Exodus is a stunning debut from Gametopia Games, but does suffer from some rookie design errors. Even so, it's a fabulous 2D platformer with lush visuals and engaging puzzles that fans of the genre and old-school magical adventures would do well to snap up. We're anxiously awaiting the developer's next move, especially if any subsequent releases delight as much as Exodus's high points.