Some days I visit the App Store and sigh at the appearance of yet another Flappy Bird clone. Other days I get lucky, and find a game that sweeps me off my feet.
The most recent of such a game is Leo’s Fortune, a stunning side-scrolling platformer that recently won an Apple Design Award. Starring a mustachioed furball named Leopold, the game follows his quest through hazardous landscapes to retrieve his stolen gold.
Leo used to be Leopold the Fortunate, until one day a thief made away with his gold. Not one to sit and do nothing, he follows the trail of coins he believes would lead to his fortune. But only if he can clear the obstacles that lie ahead.
These may be natural (thorny plants, steep cliffs, giant boulders) or man-made (trapdoors, stray mines, spinning cogwheels of doom). Then there are also puzzles that require you to use Leo’s weight to operate contraptions, or move boxes around to activate levers.
To get around, you slide left or right on the left side of the screen. Leo doesn't roll like you’d expect furballs do; instead, he sort of glides across the surface and is able to accelerate quickly. You can swipe up on the right side of the screen to make him puff up like a balloon and float gently in the air. Swipe down, and he'll dive down quickly.
These controls take a while to get used to, but fortunately the gameplay is quite forgiving. You get infinite lives, and when you die the game automatically takes you to the nearest of many save points. There's no time limit either.
Nevertheless, mastering the controls is essential as you progress through the levels — inflating Leo just in time might save you from that nasty fall. Diving is especially handy for pushing down levers and navigating underwater paths where Leo's light form keeps him afloat.
The game comprises 20 levels, plus four unlockable bonus rounds, that span five worlds. That amounts to only 24 levels, but on the plus side no level ever feels like a filler. Every level also features a distinctive (and highly polished) environment; from mossy hills to ruined cities, there's always something new to admire.
Completing each level, you can win up to three stars. That's one star each for collecting all the coins, not dying, and completing a level within a certain time. Finishing the game entirely will unlock a Hardcore mode, which is truly a test for skills as you mustn't die even once. Additionally, you can unlock various achievements.
You Need to Know
Leo’s Fortune comes with two kinds of controls: the default touch mechanism or on-screen buttons. You can switch between controls from the Settings menu before you play, or by tapping the pause button in a level. I like the touch controls best as you can swipe anywhere on the screen and not worry about missing a button.
One thing to keep in mind is to connect your device to the internet when you open the app for the first time. This is so it can download the contents required to play the game.
Things I Like
One of the most polished games on the iPad, Leo’s Fortune has lush graphics and cleverly uses layers to create a sense of depth. Nice lighting, weather effects, and sound design also contribute to an immersive playing experience.
Connecting each world are cut scenes that gradually unravel the plot. These scenes are narrated by Leo himself in what sounds like a Russian accent. You can skip them if you want, but I enjoy watching them.
Gameplay-wise, one might say the app doesn’t bring anything new to the table. But, it is nicely executed. The puzzles are fun. It’s always exciting to hear Leo mutter, “Aha! I solved it!” after successfully solving a puzzle.
A downside of this game is that the puzzles are clever, but might be too easy for veteran gamers. It’s more challenging to navigate through the terrains, but even then it’s unlikely you’d get stuck. On the other hand, the moderate difficulty level makes the game accessible to a wider audience. Plus, you can always play the Hardcore mode if you want more challenge.
Leo’s Fortune is a stunning game that possesses all the elements of a great platformer: polished visuals, clever puzzles, and an epic adventure. Offering 24 handcrafted levels, it keeps players challenged until the end but does not drag on. This is one game you don’t want to miss.
App was purchased by us.