Updated: Escape From NOM Review

Right after we posted our initial review, complaining that Escape From NOM is loaded with ads and in-app purchases despite the $3 launch price, the game received a temporary markdown to free. As long as it stays at this price, we’ve got a lot less to complain about. Download it now for free while you can.

It seems the original $2.99 price tag was a mistake on Glu’s behalf. Escape From NOM is now permanently free, making some of the in-app purchases easier to stomach.

You’ll now get 30 levels, as well as five user-created level download credits, for free. The extra level pack remains at $1.99, and with the price drop of the app itself we can now back this price. We still aren’t fans of the credit-based system used for user levels, however. The variation in quality makes it feel like you are dumping money into unknown territory.

Also, we’d like a way to pay to remove the iAds. Most ad-supported freemium games have this available as an option, and we’d be happy to give up a dollar in exchange for a less cluttered experience.

We aren’t going to quarrel about the little things, though. Escape From NOM’s improved model is enough for us to bump our score up to a 3. For those who bought the game at its previous $2.99 price point, Glu is offering to give you a free promo code for any of their iPhone/iPod Touch games.

We’re fine with most in-app purchases in paid apps. We also support advertising in free apps. Neither of these feel like they should belong in Escape From NOM, though. This physics puzzler is a fun game, but every turn holds another iAd or in-app purchase.

In NOM, you must drop Alan, a colorful blob, into the water below to pass each level. You can move him back and forth by dragging him or using a wheel for more precision.

Alan must be the same color as the water by the time he reaches it. This can be achieved by placing him above bumpers that will change his color when they collide.

You’ll also need to make sure Alan doesn’t get eaten by the larger NOMs. Using bumpers, trampolines, and portals (where Alan goes in one end and comes out the other at the same angle) is the key to staying alive. Some obstacles are preset in the level, while others can be accessed in a pop-out menu and placed anywhere on the screen. If you fail a mission, you can give it another shot without resetting where you placed items.

Om nom nom.

Collecting flowers along the way helps add to your score. The better you perform, the better the medal you receive. There isn’t much incentive to get the gold on every level, but for the completionists out there, you’ll get a good amount of replay value.

Escape From NOM also has a deep level editor built into the game where you can create, test, and upload levels for others to play. The editor works quite well and gives you control over every part of the level. The only downside is that you have to use Facebook to upload levels.

The game may sound good so far, but problems arise when you hit the first pay-gate. The first big in-app purchase appears towards the end of the campaign. After paying the initial $2.99, you only get 30 levels across three worlds. It’ll cost you $1.99 for the last two worlds, bringing the total cost to $4.98. We don’t have much of a problem with the $5 price for five worlds, but be aware that the final price of the game isn’t what it seems up front.

After eating Alan, these greedy NOMs will go for your wallet.

Even worse is how you must purchase credits to download user-created levels (the cost per level is one credit). From the get-go, you’re provided with five credits, which won’t get you far at all. This virtual currency is another in-app purchase that just should not have happened.

Finally, we come to the iAds. We feel that paid apps shouldn’t have advertisements beyond a non-intrusive news banner for the publisher or developer. However, Glu throws an iAd at you every time the game loads up a menu or new level.

Escape From NOM is a fun game, but unless Glu re-releases it without the excessive in-app purchases and ads, we recommend nom-ing another puzzler instead.

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