It’s not really fair to call it a road. That word calls to mind a strip of drab, dirty pavement. No, Impossible Road’s track more closely resembles a whirling gymnast ribbon, gracefully freeze-framed in a sea of white. Every second or two, a bright shimmer ripples down its surface, giving it a foil-like iridescence. As palette cleansing to the eyes as the game’s blue-and-white monochrome may look in a screenshot, the experience of guiding a hurtling white ball down its surface without sailing off the edge is about as terrifying a prospect as gaming has to offer.
We can’t say Impossible Road didn’t warn us, proudly wearing its severe difficulty in its name like one of those formatted nametags: Hello, My Name Is…Bastard-Hard Mobile Game. If you shouted four-letter words at your iDevice while playing Super Hexagon, you’ll be wracking your brain for five- and six-letter epithets to hurl at Impossible Road. Echoes of Wipeout, Super Monkey Ball and Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road track are inescapable, and the game nods to Super Hexagon in its controls, which involve tapping opposing sides of the screen with your thumbs to tilt the field of play and affect the trajectory of the ball (a.k.a. The Vessel).
The game measures your score by how many checkpoint gates you can make it through before plummeting into the snowblind abyss. Here’s the ingenious twist: leaping off the road isn’t automatic suicide. You keep your forward momentum while falling and if you manage to guide The Vessel back onto a later patch of ribbon before the world bleeds out to white a few seconds after losing direct contact with the road, you can game the system and boost your score more rapidly. Simply for the harrowing elegance of this risk-reward proposition, Impossible Road’s lone developer Kevin Ng deserves to have his pockets paved with gold.
Impossible Road is available on the App Store now for £1.49 / $1.99.