rComplex Review: Intrigue and Mystery on the Go

For someone who doesn’t play a lot of games on her iPad, I’ve been doing a lot of gaming on my expensive little toy. One of the games that I’ve been playing a lot of is rComplex, a fun and mysterious game that tests your reflexes… or your patience, depending on your reaction time. Are you the kind of gamer who would enjoy the challenge? Read on to find out if this game is worth your time and money.

Platforms: iOS (iPhone/iPad Only)
Publisher: Interwave Studios
Developer: EVENT Interactive
Genre: Tentacle-Scything Race
Release Date: April 2, 2012
iTunes App Rating: 9+

In rComplex, you’re a man fighting his way out of a city. The default movement is running, and you must dodge park benches, ladders, boxes, and other random obstacles. You’ve got a gun with a scythe on the end of it (what else?), and you start with 12 bullets.

Oh, and a giant wall of black tentacles is chasing you.

As the main character, you’re running through a mysterious city, and along the way, you pick up Memory Cubes, which give you more details about the story. It seems you’ve got amnesia, and collecting these cubes fills in the blanks of what lead you here. The only goals in the game are to collect Memory Cubes and survive. This may sound simple, but it’s actually more difficult than you think.

There are two arrows on the bottom right-hand side of the screen, one pointing up and one pointing down. When you get to a green obstacle, you hit the up arrow to jump it; when you get to a blue obstacle, you hit the down arrow to slide under it. If you miss the jump or slide, you fall, and the tentacles creep in closer. You can tap the screen to shoot the tentacles which keeps them at bay for a moment, long enough to try to get some space between you and it.

If the tentacles do catch you, they hold you up in the air and shake you, and you have to tap the screen repeatedly to use your scythe and slice one off to let you go. There are extra bullets and scythes that can be picked up, but use them all sparingly, because – especially at first – it seems like there are never enough.

Once you’ve gone long enough without falling, you hit your stride and go into Zen Mode, in which you run faster, the sounds are muted, and you leave the tentacles in the dust. This lasts until you fall (which is what happens if you miss a jump or botch a slide), and – since you’re going faster now and you have to react even more quickly to obstacles – this can happen pretty quickly. But if you can keep it going, Zen mode can hurtle you to the end of the level in no time.

Whenever you see a Memory Cube, tap the screen to pick it up, and you’ll hear the narrator’s voice remembering something. He also narrates in between the levels, to the backdrop of comic panels. The artwork – which is primarily red, black, and white – is very minimal, but it works. I like how “cool” it looks, especially with the starkness of the colors and the angles. It’s slick and attractive despite being so simple.

All of the audio in the game was very enjoyable. The music, too, is simple, but catchy. I never found myself getting annoyed by it, even though it looped over and over through my (many!) failures. I also really enjoyed the voice of the character – his voice was soothing and strong, bringing a balance between the fear he was feeling from his amnesia and the relief that rolled in when he remembered something.

The only complaint I had initially was with the old control scheme – before the arrows, you had to swipe up or down to jump or slide. I had no problems with the downward swipe, but often when I tried to swipe up, I would hit the screen a little too hard, and end up shooting before jumping. The jump mechanic takes more precise timing than the slide one does – you can be nearly upon the obstacle before you slide under it, but jumping requires you to really have fast reflexes. I’m glad for the recent update which replaced the swiping with the arrows.

rComplex is a short, fun game for iOS that takes a fast eye and a faster hand. Short and fun don’t automatically mean easy, though, and this game can get very difficult. That’s not meant to discourage anyone but lazy gamers from playing it – it’s easy to get frustrated, but satisfying if you can get through it. I enjoyed all the time I spent with the mysterious main character. It reminded me a lot of the tabletop roleplaying game Lacuna, in that it was simplistic yet still fun and full of intrigue. Anyone looking for something different to play on the go should definitely pick up rComplex.

Review Disclosure: A review copy of rComplex was provided by Interwave Studios for the purposes of this review.

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Nicole Kline is Warp Zoned's Senior Editor. She first began preparing for the job by climbing a milk crate to play Centipede in an arcade. You can find her on PSN under the name toitle or you can email her at nicole AT warpzoned DOT com.

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