Zero Chance Review

The space flying game Zero Chance, one of the more strangely-titled games in recent memory, does a few things right, but gets a lot of other important aspects of the experience wrong. We put the things liked on a scale opposite the things we didn’t, and the balance is on the bad side; sometimes a game needs merely to do enough to make your forgive its flaws, and Zero Chance didn’t quite get there.

Weighing in on the good side of the scales for Zero Chance is its innovative design. You fly your spacecraft through a gorgeously realized hyperspace with a hidden 2D element that enhances the experience. How, you might ask? The answer is the accelerometer. Normally, the camera is positioned directly behind your craft, but tilting your screen forward pivots to an overhead shooter viewpoint, allowing you to see around the area more thoroughly. This helps you to locate power-ups and find escape routes through asteroid-infested sectors of space. The viewpoint switch feature is easily the game’s best point, and we found ourselves throwing our iDevice around just to check out the super-smooth graphics.

Gameplay problems weigh down the negative side of the scales, starting with the clunky touch controls. Basically, you have to touch the screen to do everything. Steering involves dragging your finger around, your speed is adjusted via a bar you drag up or down, and a specific touch button fires a laser beam. If this all sounds a little too much for the iDevice’s screen, you’re completely right; all of these touch controls end up obscuring the screen and making the game more difficult than it needs to be. Though we love the pivoting camera, tilt steering would be preferable here–perhaps the camera should have gotten a button instead of taking up the accelerometer.

Furthermore, the game itself is very limited in scope, given that you’re essentially just dodging around obstacles and flying through holes for the entirety of the experience. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a dodge-only game–witness the excellent Space Ninja–Zero Chance isn’t anywhere near as interesting, and we quickly lost enthusiasm for finishing all of the game’s 10 levels. All told, Zero Chance is good for an hour or so of gameplay (depending on your skill level), and that’s not nearly enough for $3.99 on the App Store.

We think a few software tweaks could improve Zero Chance considerably, maybe by adding some combat, adjusting the controls, and/or instituting a wider field of flight. As it is, however, Zero Chance is pretty frustrating to play, and it’s too cursory an experience to get our full approval.

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