It is often preached that one of the great pros to the App Store is the little games that would otherwise go unnoticed or would quickly die under the blizzard of AAA mainstream mega-games. Enter, Chase the Dot: an incredibly simplistic and fun title developed by art studio Universal Everything who specialize in handheld media.
If you haven’t heard by now, then let me catch you up to speed on the gameplay: there is a dot that appears, disappears, and reappears in several spots on the screen, and you get points by tapping it before it’s gone. In Double mode there are two dots which disappear and reappear simultaneously, and therefore must be tapped simultaneously.
Both modes are fun and interesting but not nearly as much as the spin-off cousins that build on them. In Evil mode you must avoid touching the dot when it’s red, and it also has a brother mode called Joker, which is the same concept but with two dots. There’s also Wicked mode, which is a quicker paced version of Evil, and it’s brother mode, Insane, adds single dot taps and double dot taps. On each of these modes you have a timer that acts as your window to score as many points as possible.
The difficulty curve isn’t steep at all, which sounds silly when talking about a game whose entire premise is tapping dots, but there’s something to be said for such a game that never feels frustrating; and that is in no small part due to the timer that keeps each round short and sweet. I never felt like I could have done more with more time. After each playthrough, I always felt totally satisfied and ready for another go at conquering my previous high score.
Should you spring the entire $1 for the Clingy Pack (protip: you totally should) you’ve just opened up a whole new bucket of fun. In this mode the dot doesn’t disappear and reappear, but rather glides across the screen, and your job is to keep your finger on it for as long as possible. As time continues the dot moves faster and it’s movement become more erratic.
Much like the tapping modes (called “Chase” modes), there is a brother mode that uses two dots called Clingy x2. However, unlike the Chase modes, the other three are completely original. Shrinky involves the dot shrinking with time, Hunted involves you controlling the dot to avoid the red dot chasing you, and finally Dodge requires you to use the white dot to avoid the two red ones.
While the basic game of Chase the Dot is free, the $1 Clingy Pack boasts a significant amount of value into an already addictive and wonderful little title. While you won’t lose much from skipping out and sticking with the free deal, you will be missing out on a great addition to an already fun title. Unfortunately, as of this writing, all you’re going to get to add onto this title is the Clingy Pack. Universal Everything has yet to announce any additional packs, which is a shame because, priced at $1, I could see myself eating up everything they put out.
The game, from a technical standpoint, is intuitive and well built. When I was playing with friends, none of us felt like our fingers were the cause of any of our failures, neither did the game ever suffer from any slowdown issues, crash errors, or any of the other functionality problems that sometimes come with Apps. Should you play on the iPhone, incoming calls will end your game but each round is so short that it never becomes a problem.
The audio and visuals give the game a special flavor that sets it apart from most App Store games of the same ilk, and adds a level of professionalism and artistic flair. The style is very minimalist with a black, white, and red palette, and occasionally green and purple are used where appropriate.
The menus also carry a minimalist and very “Apple-esque” feel, with simplistic fonts and transitions. If I had any criticism, it would be that the ads on the level select screen completely breaks the visual style, but for free, something has to pay the bills.
During gameplay however, the ads are gone and you’re given a pretty intuitive UI that will track your performance. There are two bars on the top of the screen, and as the one depletes (time) the other increases based on performance (score). Once the latter turns green, you’ve beaten your high score. It’s a very nifty system that actually comes in handy despite the shortness of each round.
The sounds are quirky and simplistic as well, with “beeps” and “bloops” that activate when you choose an option, tap a dot, or miss a dot. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it retro, but it fits the game extremely well. The only time a real song is playing is during the Clingy levels, and while it’s not too bad, I thought something with a more chiptune feel to it would’ve held up better. As it stands, what you get is a generic placeholder song of no real significance.
Overall, Chase the Dot is one of the best games on the App Store, and I’ve yet to find a one that was both as simple and impressive. The style is great, the gameplay is simple and addictive, and for either free or the $1 Clingy Pack, you really can’t ask for more.
Gamer Limit gives Chase the Dot+ without the Clingy Pack an 8/10. With the Clingy Pack a 9/10.