Dark Nebula

"5 out of 5. It’s in a completely different league to anything else that I’ve personally come across on the store."
- 148 Apps

"Dark Nebula is simply one of the best games the AppStore has produced."
- The App Era
...


Currently Unavailable

Dark Nebula Episode 1 Hands-On Preview

The debut episode of what we suspect will be a series of marble-rolling missions seems to be getting off on the right track. Although the eerie outer-space setting seems like an odd choice for this type of game, it’s no stranger than the Escher-inspired videogame fantasylands of games like Marble Blast Mobile.

By simply tilting the device, you control a silver sphere through an empty spaceship as you whiz past obstacles, over narrow catwalks, and collect glowing components of an unidentified origin. No other shakes or button presses are required.

Split into 11 levels, the progression through Dark Nebula feels appropriately fast. Subtle motions are the key to navigating the tightly organized levels. While sometimes keeping our marble on course required tricky maneuvering, there are no mind-bending puzzles in the game. Instead, super-simple obstacles like red gates (which can only be opened after you roll through a red platform) provide mere speed bumps on the way to the finish.

Speaking of speed, some of the levels we played were actually called “speed levels”, which sent our ball whizzing ahead without us having to tilt the device forward. Instead, we focused on moving left and right to pick up tokens and avoiding the embarrassing plummet when the ground disappears beneath you. These levels we completed in about thirty seconds, while some of the others took just a few minutes.

Even though it’s a fast and short game, the medals you get for surviving all the way through, picking up all glowing tokens, and finishing in record time provide the incentive to replay the game. However, we didn’t see any online scoring or other achievements you could share with friends.

One of the most intriguing, yet unexplained aspect of Dark Nebula is the story and scenery. You’re in outer space, on a ship loaded with narrow metal hallways, guns, laser barriers, and launch pads. However, we never really learned what your ultimate goal is. The final level gives you some hint, but we may have to wait for Episode 2 to really learn what the heck is going on. If Dark Nebula debuts at a low enough price, our early estimate is that the level design and fine controls make it one to consider.

More stories on Dark Nebula

Dark Nebula – Episode One Review

Ball rolling games come in many shapes and sizes. Marble Blast Mobile is a great example of a 3D spinner while Rolando implemented a platformer-like side view. Dark Nebula is completely different, though, with a top down view that plays much like a futuristic Labyrinth.

The concept behind Dark Nebula is very unique. A marble has infiltrated a futuristic space factory full of dangerous weaponry, such as spinning spike arms and plasma cannons. In the first episode, there is little story to be told, but an intense firewall destruction level at the end of the game hints at a malevolent plan.

This is true marble madness.

Dark Nebula is made up of ten levels. The majority of them have you rolling your marble down a winding path towards a conveyor belt at the end. You can control the speed and direction of your ball by tilting the device. The accelerometer implementation is among the best we have seen, allowing for quick and precise movements in a split second.

Two of the levels are deemed ‘speed runs’. These send your ball rolling at top speeds and only ask you to turn it left or right. However, even without control over your speed, you must keep up with the increased pace.

Each level is designed with care. New gameplay mechanics are constantly introduced, like bouncing tiles, smaller marbles that must be placed in sockets, and multicolored chargers which allow you to pass through gates. Many times these elements must be combined. For example, at one point in the game you must push the smaller marbles into cannon fire to connect it into its socket and open a gate. This leads to some interesting challenges.

Who knew a marble could hop platforms?

Dark Nebula is no graphical slouch either. Detailed, crisp textures overlay multi-layered artwork. Every little nuance adds to the extreme polish on this title. Our only complaint was that the marble didn’t seem to roll so much as float, but this was trivial.

The only issue keeping this from being a Must Have game is its lack of content. After about 45 minutes, you are given a ‘to be continued’ screen. We understand that more episodes are planned for the future, but we were a little let down after becoming hooked. Replay value is added through a gold star system, but ultimately the experience feels very repetitive the second time around.

Even with the issue of length, we feel Dark Nebula is a great way to spend $0.99. If you are looking for an original game that will provide sufficient challenge, pick this one up with confidence.