We take on the challenge of this slick and tricky retro shooter.
It'll be a rare Futuridium EP review you read that doesn't make at least a passing mention to the SNES classic Star Fox. Like that seminal 3D title, this is a starkly polygonal shooter built from the sharply angular building blocks of triangles and cubes, and even your ship itself bears more than a passing resemblance to the craft favored by Fox and friends.
Your objective in each level is to swoop above, below and around the architecture, destroying every blue cube, then blow up the glowing core that's exposed. To do this you steer your ship with finger swipes, and tap on a fire button in the bottom right-hand corner to get the bullets flowing. The catch? You only have a limited amount of energy to complete each level with, and even basic flight starts that timer ticking downwards.
Shooting a blue cube restores a little bit of that energy, and there are combo points up for grabs if you can take out these blocks in rapid succession. To aid you in your mission, you can tap outside of the firing box to flip your ship around 180 degrees - handy if you're running out of juice and need to take out another row of cubes before your meter runs out.
It takes a little while to get acclimatized to the controls, but once you settle into the game it's an extraordinarily tense affair. If you want to play through the levels sequentially, you'll need to get seriously good at conserving energy and playing efficiently, because the status of your energy meter is carried over from one level to the next. It's no small challenge, even on the easiest difficulty setting, and there are harder game modes to unlock if you really want to put yourself to the test.
It's not all plain sailing with Futuridum though. For a start there's no aiming reticule whatsoever - something that would have helped a great deal when judging height and horizontal positioning in the game space. Secondly, it's very easy to tap just outside of the firing box, and flip your ship 180 degrees, straight into the wall you've just passed! Finally, if you crash outright into any scenery or cubes, you get sent back to the starting point of the level with a big energy penalty - and if you've cleared out one half of the level, that can represent a long trip back. It's a legitimate penalty system on paper, but it's also just a little too frustrating.
These are issues, for sure, but there's so much to like about the rest of the game that you'll find yourself forgiving it an awful lot. Its crisp and minimal looks are gorgeous to lose yourself in, and the game has one of the best soundtracks we've heard in some time. Those who truly master the game have some seriously fun but pressure-filled leaderboard battles to look forward to as well. If you can overcome the game's challenges - both fair and unfair - this is a very satisfying mobile shooter. Just be prepared to work a little harder than you should really have to.
What's Hot:An exceptionally challenging shooter, fashioned from simple but elegant building blocks, and set to a thumping soundtrack.
What's Not:There are avoidable frustrations to be found in the game design, and you'll need no small amount of patience to overcome them.