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Onwards: a microcosm of pessimism – Game Review


Onwards is a game of trial and error, a game in which your patience, ability and reflexes will be put to the test. This is a game that can either trap you for long sessions or piss you off just enough to delete it from your phone. It goes like this: you are a green ball surrounded by figures and structures colored red; if the green ball touches any red it explodes; the screen is constantly moving, causing the figures to come towards you, you get the idea right? You move the ball up and down to dodge the red figures, that’s it.

onwardsOnwards has various segments, meaning that there is a set of, already designed, corridors and obstacles that are presented to you, each time in a different order. So, for example, you start the game and immediately are forced to dodge a particular set of red balls, then you get to a corridor, also red, and then you have to dodge red columns that are moving continuously; you die and that’s a match. Let’s say you start Onwards again, well, this time the columns come first, then the set of balls and then the corridor. There are a lot of obstacles that are thrown at you every time in a different order. This means the game is dynamic, not procedurally generated. The challenges just change order.

Everything, up until this point is fine and dandy. It starts to crumble down when the, more than irruptive, add system breaks the game. Before I go on, I would like to make a disclaimer: I know developers have to make money, they have to live off of something, and the artist, in this case, the developer should be able to live off his creation, I get that and I defend that. The problem comes when there’s just no balance. You die a lot in this game, and every five deaths you get an ad thrown in your face. It gets frustrating when every 20-30 seconds you are forced to watch a video, even more when you realize there is an ad always running while you play. Basically, you are always having to deal with advertising.

onwardsI stressed in the beginning of the review that Onwards puts you to the test. This means, with the game alone, you can get quickly frustrated. Now, add to that the adds, and you have no choice but to uninstall the app after a few matches. It pisses me off, because, playing in airplane mode, I really, frankly enjoyed Onwards. It has this meditative aspect to the gameplay. After playing a long while you start to get it and move freely, with more experience, through the challenges. But then I felt guilty because I was enjoying it and the developers were making nothing off of my enjoyment, which they should. Onwards needs a balance between the adds and the game itself, otherwise no-one is gonna wanna play this for more than five minutes.

In conclusion: loved Onwards, hated the ad system. Give it a try if patience, real, hard, almost godly patience, is your deal. If that’s the case, you’ll definitively enjoy it. You can also play with ads for a while and then on airplane mode, alternating these two, just to be fair to the developer and yourself.

About David Fields

David is a self deprecating idiot who has loved video games since he can remember. He currently studies literature in the hopes of, some day, writing and programming a not so bad game of his own. He likes movies, series and is currently waiting, with submissive anxiety, for the third season of Twin Peaks.

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