It's safe to say that cave flyers have been around the block a few times, and that a few of you might just be sick of 'em. Hey, that's fair—I know my enduring love of endless runners and cave flyers isn't shared by everyone. But do me a favor: take a look at Blot's [$0.99] trailer before writing it off. Yeah, it's just another cave flyer, but goodness, it's gorgeous.
We've seen the control scheme and basic design a thousand times before, and there's nothing new about collecting coins for upgrades, cosmetic or otherwise. Blot won't win many points for fundamental originality. But it's a solid, fun cave flier that also happens to be beautiful, with an underlying sense of humor that's sure to please.
Screenshots don't do it justice — a big part of Blot's appeal is how lovely its parallax backgrounds look in motion. Someone at Majestic Software has taken time to sketch out all manner of things — trees, candies, wastelands, ponies, helicopters wielding swords and morningstars, you name it—which the game then combines and recombines to build new backdrops each time you play.
This is part of a broader vision. Blot himself is an ink spatter, flying outwards from a pen. He dodges pencils and seeks out paint cans and smudges. The artistic theme isn't carried through as far as it could be—art and coin collection don't exactly go hand in hand—but it gets very, very close.
For controls you're looking at something a lot like Jetpack Joyride [Free], to name one recent and popular example. The titular Blot is bigger and a bit floatier than Barry Steakfries and his jetpack, but it has the same inputs—tap to rise, let go to fall. The arc of its movement might take a bit of getting used to, but there are no drastic changes.
And what would a modern cave flyer be without a collection mechanic or two? Aside from coins, you'll also seek out boost buddies. Blot grows as it absorbs these cute little dudes, making it easier to grab coins but harder to dodge obstacles. Once you pick up four, you get a big boost of speed and temporary invincibility. There are also colorful paint cans and smudges to be found that mess with speed, direction and magnetism.
The coins you collect can be exchanged for upgrades. The selection is pretty cool—stuff that makes paint effects or boosts last longer, alerts you to upcoming boost buddies, makes you magnetic or doubles your income. Since you can only pick one to equip, you'll have to consider whether you're grinding for coins, going the distance or working on a Game Center achievement that requires a bit of extra assistance.
The game takes any chance to serve up pop-culture references. Little things, mostly, like how the buddy detector is called the "pip-blot 2000," and the unlockable costumes play off things like Star Trek and the Ace Attorney series. There are also achievements for flying past wild reference in the background sketches, although you'll probably die if you take the time to look for them. Best of all, none of this feels as forced or out of place as memes so often do when they pop up in games.
Some of the foreground elements are a bit abrasive against the terribly sexy backgrounds, but everything else is awesome. There's lovely (if brief) music to fly to, and Blot is stupidly charming for something with only a few frames of animation (that little scrunchy face…!). And while there isn't a plot or a complicated mission system to keep you motivated, the high score grind is made valuable with coin rewards and a grading system. Practice makes perfect, but getting an A+ will take skill.
One little warning - you can purchase coins with cash. Don't bother unless you're out to support the developers or stockpile a huge supply of portals—you'll just rob yourself of the fun of actually playing. The grind isn't painful at all unless you need the highest end items right away. My only quibble is that the IAP coins come a bit cheap - a single $2.99 purchase can give you most of what you'd ever need, so grinding starts to look like a bad value proposition.
It's hard to complain, though. While it fails to distinguish itself on mechanics, Blot blows most of its competition out of the water with style alone. It's delightful, plain and simple, and when given the choice between equally solid games, I'll take the one that delights me any day. Who wouldn't want a little more joy in their games, right? So take a good long look at Blot, and let us know if you like what you see.
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