STOP. Whatever you’re doing…don’t do it for a few seconds. Pick up your iPhone, and go download #strys. Yes, I know Adam Atomic’s Hundreds just came out. Yes, Temple Run 2 came out today. #strys is the new hotness, and you owe it to yourself to play the best iOS game of 2013 so far. Also…it’s FREEEEEEEEEEE. You’re downloading it? Good, I guess I can tell you what it is now.
First off, #strys…well, yeah, that’s really what its called. The title is hashtag followed by a seemingly random assortment of letters. It kind of looks like what your bowl of alphabet Spaghetti O’s might look like halfway through your “meal”.
Christopher Wallace’s #strys is an incredibly simple game, but it’s simple mechanics are what keep me coming back for more. You have a screen, a missle flying from one side to the other, and some skulls and bombs popping in every few seconds. You control the missile by touching either the left or right side of the screen (similar to the movement of your arrow in Super Hexagon) to rotate the path it flies along. The goal is to fly your missile into as many skulls and bombs as you can, for as long as you can, without being damaged by the enemies’ projectiles three times. A point total is centered in the screen, ever-increasing the longer you stay alive, with small bonuses for enemies and hazards killed. You fly around, run into some things on the screen, and try not to get hit.
Like I said, it’s pretty darn simple. It gets so much right, it’s sad to think that due to a few relatively minor poor design choices, some people may not get the chance to see what makes it so special. First off, the main menu containing the instructions is inaccessible after you choose to start a round. After playing two rounds in about two minutes, I had no idea what I was doing, and realized there was no way back to the start menu to figure anything out. Once I force closed the app thorough the multitask tray, I reentered the app fresh, and read the instructions. At this point, I learned nothing. Touch left to go left, touch right to go right, you have three lives. That’s all you’re given before you play. Sometimes you can be a little too simple for your own good. I went back into the game and still didn’t know what I was doing and left disappointed yet again.
After coming back and playing with it some more, I slowly came to the realization of how the mechanics worked. Skulls are bad, skulls shoot you, bombs explode. You can touch anything to make it die. Pretty simple, but I really wish I had known that from the beginning rather than haphazardly stumbling onto the rules myself.
Once it clicks though, man, does it click. I couldn’t put it down, and as cliche as it may be, I kept having to have one…more…round. Every time I got a little closer to toppling someone on the leaderboard I had to jump straight back in and give it another shot. Just the sheer sense of joy I got from seeing the numbers tick up and up and up as I lasted one minute, then two minutes…it’s fantastic. It’s the most addicting game I’ve had my hands on all year, and one of the hardest to put down since the master, Super Hexagon, itself. As an added bonus, it has some of the best use of sound I’ve heard from a game in a while. The in game soundtrack is perfect for the game you’re playing, not too stressful but not entirely chill; but my favorite examples are found in the sound effects. An excellently placed record scratch, some bells, and a few other quick sounds add a sense of cheerful humanity to an already (mostly) well executed piece of work.
Sure, the controls take a little time to get used to and it doesn’t feel like it has the same amount of polish as some iOS classics, but there’s a certain charm to the whole package. According to the Game Center leaderboard at the time of publication, a truly unceremonious number of 100 players have experienced once of the best games of 2013 so far. I’m ranked number 5! This game deserves more, and if its quality has any say in it, it’ll gain quite the following in the upcoming weeks.
I would lovelovelove to see this game supported through this year; I can only hope that the developer sees the same potential in it as I do. It’s a brilliant little game, and I know that if something so simple can be done so well, it can be expanded upon, improved, and evolved. Wallace and Co. have a gem on their hands whether they know it yet or not. I just wish it had a name that I could remember for longer than eight seconds.
Image Source: appshopper.com