fri 25/09/2020

Impossible Road | reviews, news & interviews

Impossible Road

Impossible Road

Risk and reward explored in a twisting, fast-paced arcade game

'Impossible Road': Twitch gaming with a minimalist aesthetic

"Avoid missing ball for high score" ‑ possibly some of the most famous and minimal videogame instructions ever, for one of the earliest arcade games, Pong. The instructions for Impossible Road could probably be similarly distilled to such haiku levels of minimalism: "don't let the ball stray too far from the track," perhaps.

"Avoid missing ball for high score" ‑ possibly some of the most famous and minimal videogame instructions ever, for one of the earliest arcade games, Pong. The instructions for Impossible Road could probably be similarly distilled to such haiku levels of minimalism: "don't let the ball stray too far from the track," perhaps.

Impossible Road initially appears to be one of the popular "endless running" handheld games typified by titles including Canabalt, Temple Run and Tiny Wings. Games of this genre see you tapping screens in various ways to dodge, overcome or move round obstacles as your character propels themselves forward ever-faster. How long you run equals your high score.

Impossible Road – endless running iPhone iPad gamingEndless running games are the instant fix of the gaming world – 30-second blasts of tapping twitch-speed gaming. You're bound to fail and fall in the end, but how long can you last? Long enough to move up the score leaderboard? Long enough to manage just two more goes before your bus arrives?

Except, Impossible Road lets you cheat – significantly changing the game. Your white ball travels down a twisty, sinewy track of blue patterns – an utterly minimalist visual style with a simplistic and heart-thumping soundtrack to go with it. Your job initially appears to be keeping the ball on the track by tapping the left or right sides of the screen. There's a catch though, and the clue is in the name  sticking to the track is impossible.

Instead, the real aim of the game is to spot moments where you can see another loop off the roadway beneath yourself and take the braver option of falling off the track. What initially has the feel of the teetery-tottery vertigo of WipEout or Super Monkey Ball gives way to a dawning realisation that falling isn't failing, necessarily.

There's a limited time period when you're falling through space when the game continues, and you can steer. Fall too far or too long and it's game over, but fall for a bit, then bounce off a lower bit of track and your score leaps up. It's risk and reward in one simple package.

There are already people chalking up scores in the millions on the game, although most people will struggle to get into the hundreds. But like the endless running games Impossible Road is superficially similar to, another turn is instantly ready to go – with the track "procedurally generated" so it's never got the same layout twice.

The end result is fiendishly difficult, fearsomely hand-eye coordination fast and requiring a certain touch of luck to hit the really high scores, but mostly very addictive. You have been warned.

Fall too far or too long and it's game over, but fall for a bit, then bounce off a lower bit of track and your score leaps up. It's risk and reward

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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