Ambient Studios’ Kickstarter Campaign for Death Inc might have been unsuccessful, but based on the strength of this iPad title we hope the studio founded by ex-Media Molecule employees finds the means to make its Black Death-themed real time strategy a reality. Both games share a pastel-coloured, wonky lined art style that in turn recalls Sackboy’s homemade eccentricity, but whereas Death Inc promised open-ended, plague-ridden simulation, Monster Meltdown is a tighter, more focused design.
It might look like a platformer, But Ambient has restricted protagonist Yuri’s moveset to a single action: tap anywhere on the screen not shrouded in shadow and Yuri will instantly teleport there. Tap on one of the monsters running amok through this futuristic lab, meanwhile, and Yuri will swap places with them. It’s a simple control system, entirely free from easily muddled gestures or unreliable virtual controls, and Ambient has built an intelligent puzzle game around its limits.
Your main objective – corralling the monsters into the level exit – is invariably simple enough, sometimes as simple as swapping places at the level’s outset. But Monster Meltdown adds both collectibles and rations the number of available teleports for those in need of a more complex challenge.
To begin with, you will need them: Ambient takes a little too long in ramping up the complexity of its challenge, and it’s only when new monster types and level furniture are eventually introduced that the game will give seasoned players pause. Persevere, however, and you’ll find the kind of charmingly intelligent design that makes us hope Ambient can eventually realise some of its grander ambitions.
Monster Meltdown is available on the App Store now for £1.49 / $1.99.