As far as iOS is concerned, a good rule of thumb suggests that the more sophisticated a game’s visual presentation, the simpler the mechanics you’ll find lurking behind it. That was the case with Chair’s gloriously straightforward Punch-Out!! homage Infinity Blade, and it’s true of Uppercut Games' third-person shooter Epoch, too. Once again, Unreal’s created landscapes of destroyed beauty, lit by flickering sparks and plasma bolts. Once again, beyond all the pretty chaos is a game that’s not so much refined as it is thoughtfully reduced.
Epoch’s a cover-based blaster, and the first element to get the chop is mobility. Rather than racing through levels, hopping from one low wall to the next, you’re presented with a series of shooting galleries in which movement is limited to jumping between three different defensive barriers as you mow down waves of robots.
With swipes taking you in and out of hiding and a tap of the screen to lock-on, it could all feel a little like Time Crisis. Instead, though, Uppercut’s channelling the more rarefied thrills of P.N.03, as you learn enemy attack routines and then fit your gymnastics – and any return fire – into their reload gaps. Different foes may switch roving lasers for area-denial grenades, but what they truly represent are new rhythms for you to learn. Success has as much to do with the timing of a shot as it does special moves or holographic decoys.
In amongst the chaos there’s narrative and even an upgrade shop, but Epoch’s so streamlined that both feel unnecessary. This isn’t a deep game by any means, but it’s colourful, noisy, and approaches iOS’s limitations with cunning.