Droidscape Basilica

Droidscape Basilica is a two-part puzzle game for iOS that mixes the “one more level” mentality of a good puzzle game with the forward thinking of a strategy title. In Droidscape Basilica you play the gem collecting droid, Bishop 7. All Bishop wants to do is make it to the end of the level and, with your help; he can do so in a multitude of ways. Standing in the way are enemies and obstacles that will make Bishop 7’s path a bit more challenging than just following the crow’s path. That’s why it’s up to the player to navigate Bishop 7’s path in the first half of the level and then execute the created path in the second half of the level.

Droidscape’s mix of gameplay mechanics feels unique. Part strategy and part puzzle, Droidscape has a two step process that allows players to first make their route towards the goal and then execute it. Every level has a simple enough goal; get to the finish line. The finish line is typically a yellow door that Bishop 7 needs a yellow key to open. As the game progresses there are more keys added to the mix, and more doors accordingly, as well as enemies that block your path and gems to collect that are often off the beaten path. In the first stage of movement players use their finger to draw Bishop 7’s path that he’ll eventually follow.

Drawing a droid’s path is a unique method of gameplay but it comes with its share of problems. Often times I had to redo the path as the touch screen would register my finger multiple times. This led to paths that jerked suddenly or got completely discombobulated. Luckily the game makes this a simple problem to fix as you’re free to redo your path as many times as you’d like without any penalties. Droidscape Basilica grades your time to completion (only on the execution phase), your gems collected, and the length of your path. The faster you complete a level the better, and that typically means a short path that manages to collect every gem. It’s definitely a good way to get players replaying a stage to perfect it, as I did a few times.

The second phase of the gameplay is the execution stage in which you control Bishop 7 directly via an analog-like stick at the bottom of the screen. This button can be slid back and forth to make Bishop 7 move slower or faster along his drawn path respectively. With the use of the button comes the ability to slow Bishop 7 down before he hits an enemy or speed him through a level if your path is created just right. There were a few moments where the direct control fumbled for me and I sent poor Bishop 7 right into enemy lines without being able to stop him. Just like in the drawing phase this problem is remedied by the ability to redo the execution as often as needed. You can even redo the entire level and draw a completely new path if your old one just isn’t working out.

My biggest issue with Droidscape Basilica, and the reason it frustrated me at times, is the collision detection. It can be very difficult, especially in latter stages, to tell whether or not an enemy is going to be in hitting distance of Bishop 7. Often times I found myself standing still, waiting for an enemy to move along their designated path, only to find myself killed by said enemy. Other times I’d be the victim of touchy slide controls and Bishop 7 would move too far forward or backward and dead he would be. It led to many a retry but after a while any level can be conquered with enough brute force or tactical thinking.

While Droidscape Basilica’s sound effects are nothing to write home about, and I found the music and effects to be average, I did enjoy the art style…at first. Droidscape has a futuristic feel to it all and Bishop 7’s almost hand-drawn look is neat. After a while the levels become a bit repetitive and everything feels grey. Grey is used in excess and leads to a rather boring pallet for a game that tries to have some real personality. Bishop 7 is rather fun and personable in character but everything else in the world feels drab. There’s a story to the game as well but it feels like bad Sci-Fi and the game would be better off without it.

Droidscape Basilica is an impressive first outing for developer Kyttaro Games. It has its share of problems and pitfalls but overall it’s a solid iOS game that will suck up your time should you get hooked on it. While the its aesthetic appeal is a bit lacking Droidscape makes up for its shortcomings with unique gameplay and a fun combination of mechanics that, while odd at first glance, go together quite well in execution.