Have you been turning it over and over in your mind what your next iOS/Android puzzle game might be? Vorpal Games have the answer for you; Rotation Station, and it’ll keep your mind turning things over, I’m afraid, though in a fun, albeit imperfect way.
The goal of Rotation Station is to roll a smiling, red ball (known as a gnambles) into a star, which marks the end point of a level. As the player begins, a ‘helping hand’ – literally a hand – guides them step-by-step through the basics of the game, of which there are many. The first lesson to learn is the most important mechanic of Rotation Station, which gives the game its name; the ability to turn the level a full 90-degrees.
Once a level has been turned, gravity will take over, rolling the ball along a level until it reaches the goal, a block, or a space in the grid, floating into oblivion, never to be seen again. Okay, maybe that was a bit dramatic, but there’s a limited amount of gnambles per level, so it’s best not to roll into these spaces.
Don’t be fooled by the helping hand, which, during the beginning ‘tutorial’, makes the game seem much easier than it actually is, walking you through the process of logically finishing a level as if it knew it like the back of its hand. After the hand leaves you to it, the game is actually rather difficult. The core puzzle of each level are challenging enough on their own, and I often struggled to figure out the path that my gnamble needed to take to reach the goal. This was no fault of the game, but rather that my slow brain struggled to put two-and-two together.
Level difficulties can vary wildly though, and while some levels require a lot of thought, trial-and-error (mainly error) and loss, others can be a case of tilting along a single path until the goal is reached. Sure, there may be magnets along the way to slow progress, but other than that there can be no thought needed on these levels at all.
My good ol’ friend, the helping hand, also showed me how to use the many different power-ups that one will encounter in Rotation Station, of which I actually thought there were too many. This often left me feeling as if the levels were a little chaotic, with different abilities in play one after the other, rather than a selection of levels focused on a specific feature.
There’s a power-up that destroys blocks, a power-up that reverses the direction of rotation, and a power-up that adds magnets, which can be used to keep a gnamble in place as the level rotates around it. That’s just a handful, but there’s more, and they come at the player frequently and in no particular order or pattern.
With the complexity of the core gameplay to develop, it is no surprise that Rotation Station’s visuals aren’t anything to write home about, as they are generally different types of squares. The levels are larger squares made out of smaller squares, and the stars in the background are made out of – can you guess? Yep, squares. However, they do job, and with such difficult puzzles to solve, maybe it’s good that your eyes won’t be drawn away from the puzzles at hand.
Similarly, the soundtrack neither adds nor takes away from the game. Other than a few jaunty, musical notes as you finish a level, or background music that does little more than blend into the experience.
A feature of Rotation Station that does add to the overall package that Vorpal Games have created here is the ability to play the game with up to 8 people locally. The idea of this mode is similar to Connect-4, in which the winner has to have five gnambles in a row, while duking it out with the power-ups found through the single-player mode. A nice touch in multiplayer is that games can be customised to preference, with power-ups being completely optional, along with the amount of gnambles available. I actually found this more fun than playing alone, as seeing the look on my opponent’s face when I managed to get 5 balls into a row was worth the difficulty I had in getting in there.
To bring the review full circle, I conclude that an avid puzzle-gamer will most likely enjoy Rotation Station for its ability to keep you thinking about a multitude of different challenges and abilities to reach a goal; such as gaps in levels, power-ups, and the main rotation mechanic. In that case I would recommend the full purchase, which unlocks 4 new worlds, and a generous 84 new levels to solve, bringing the total up to 144.
However, if, like me, the majority of your puzzle gaming takes place when waiting or travelling, the free version of Rotation Station will supply plenty of level-spinning problems to solve, even if it never breaks the mould. The free version gives access to four out of eight worlds, and 60 out of 144 levels, which is enough rotation for anyone to enjoy in short bursts, especially when the multiplayer mode is thrown in, too.
- Challenging puzzles
- Multiplayer mode, with customisation
- Difficulty can vary wildly from one level to the next
- Power-ups introduced too frequently