After making a name for themselves with Ravensword and Aralon (plus a collaboration on Rimelands), Crescent Moon Games has proven that they know how to make a great RPG. But what about a ball-rolling game? Apparently, they can do anything, because Gears is the best ball-rolling platformer we’ve played since Dark Nebula Episode 2.
Gears is your classic marble rolling game, where you have to control a sphere across a series of tightly-constructed levels. It’s much more than we’re used to, though, due to a number of impressive features.
First, there are the graphics, which are rendered in 3D from a top-down perspective, and put just about any other ball-rolling game to shame. Each labyrinthine level has complex moving parts, colored lighting, and environmental details like sprouting crystals or rivers of molten lava. Some elements can appear a bit flat or blocky, but we still appreciate the artistic intent.
Wonder why this game is called Gears?
Second, Gears offers some incredible level design. Each of the game’s 27 levels are packed with challenging crossings, and some of the more vertical segments (like bouncing on trampolines) can genuinely induce vertigo. On the normal difficulty modes there’s a strict time limit, but we found that it was too strict, so we switched to easy mode halfway to enjoy the game stress-free. Take this as a warning.
Finally, Gears has excellent touch controls, which is surprising because you’d expect a marble-rolling game to have good tilt controls. The tilt controls in Gears are pretty much unusable due to the precision required for the levels. But by holding your finger on the screen and nudging along, you’ll coast across razor-thin walkways and steer clear of sheer drops.
Come on in, the water’s fine.
While Gears is easily a Must Have ball-rolling platformer, it’s hard to recommend for casual players due to the high level of difficulty. The first third of the game isn’t too hard, and it’s a lot of fun, but the challenge ramps up considerably by the halfway point.
We advise turning off the timer until you beat the game once, and after that, don’t forget to take your blood pressure medication if you attempt the harder stages and difficulty levels. Despite the extraordinary difficulty level in Gears, Crescent Moon has set the gold standard in yet another genre, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll attempt next.