Strapped to a Meteor is not just a cool name for a metal band, it’s in fact the name of DEO’s developer. Having just recently been released on the App Store, DEO is a very simple rotating platformer, similar to many other previous App Store games. In fact, the only real originality of the game comes in the form of the dark atmosphere presented in a tim burton-esque fashion.
As we all learned back in basic physics class, life in the Universe was created by an eerie looking red blob bouncing on floating chunks of rock. And so that is what you have to do in DEO, in order to restore life to a desolate universe that has somehow become lifeless (and apparently planets also exploded). Your goal is therefore to take control of the red character that is disturbingly reminiscent of the main character from Oddy Smog’s Misadventure (intentional maybe?) and guide him to the red grass that I suppose represents…ok I have no idea, just get him to the damn red grass.
Each level is basically a strangely shaped rock formation that spins around. There are platforms jetting out from the central rock, and you have to jump from one patch of green grass to the other, and in the end touch the red patch of grass in order to finish the level. You’re prone to the laws of physics though so if you wait too long or overshoot or anything, you will be falling. The controls are simple to get the hang of.
Touching the screen will cause your little red luke skywalker (cause he’s our only hope, get it?) to curl up and bounce. Keeping your finger on the screen longer increases the power of the jump. This makes the game somewhat strategic, as you might decide to forego a difficult platform to land on completely, and instead force a long jump to the next grassy platform.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have any sort of counter or bar to show the approximate power of the shot, so you’ll have to memorize how long holding your finger down will produce how big of a jump. This quickly becomes annoying as all hell and I couldn’t understand for the life of me why a simple “power bar” wasn’t implemented. Honestly, in a game that is all about control and precise timing, not having something like that just seems lazy.
The levels get progressively harder, with smaller platforms that are further apart, with the spinning moving slightly faster, and with the platforms being shaped in strange ways so that just when managed to make that tough jump, you slide right on down and touch the black are of the rock, thereby effectively dying. Great fun.
The frustration is terrifying, as there is also no way to increase the speed with which the chunk of rock rotates, so if say one level has 4 platforms, then a really tough jump, and you miss the jump, you have to wait for ages just for the rock to spin around and give you another shot at the hard jump.
There are 96 levels in all, and while the level progression is ridiculously difficult, there is a bit of an original idea in that as you progress through the game you are rebuilding the planet you’re currently on (there are 2 planets for now). Also, according to how well you did, the planet will have more or less vegetation on it. So that’s a nice, fun reward.
Is it worth the frustration though? Personally I’d say no. Sure, the game has a great atmosphere, but then again I was expecting Helena Bonham Carter to pop up from behind a patch of grass with a freaky Elizabethan outfit and some scissors or something, so maybe the Tim Burton feel should’ve been toned down a bit. I also can’t help but feel the similarity to Oddy Smog is just overwhelming in the design of the character, but then again maybe they just couldn’t think of something else so…
Oh, did I mention there is no Game Center or any type of scoring system other than the amount of plantlife on the planet? Well…there isn’t.