Ekon The Cyborg Review (iOS)
Ekon The Cyborg is a twin-stick shooter which is a direct homage to early PlayStation titles, but thankfully nostalgia isn't the only engaging aspect to this free-to-play app.
As the titular character, it's your job to stop the evil Octoids, an intimidating swarm of aliens who've taken over Neutron City. iOS users who are tired of simply swiping and tapping their way through games will be in for a treat, since Ekon The Cyborg makes effective use of its dual controls. The left stick is employed for Ekon's movement, with the right controls utilized for firepower. Although the twin-stick aesthetic is responsive to your touch, it may take a spell to master the controls, especially if you’re more of a point-and-shoot type of player.
Simultaneously using both controls is necessary to keep Ekon alive, as staying stationary even for a few seconds will lead to his demise. Unless it's a boss battle, Ekon will usually have numerous aliens to shoot down and even if your weapon is upgraded, taking down these villains requires a bit of evasion. A red flag icon located at the top of the screen displays your overall progress during the stage, and once that bar is filled with yellow, you've killed all the aliens and are ready for the next chapter. Since there is no time limit to your stages, each section is completed once all of the enemies are killed. If you die during a firefight, it won’t be a total waste, as whatever gold you pick up before your death will still be added to your reserves.
The app's biggest success lies in its addictive and refreshingly exhaustive gameplay. On a given stage, you may be tasked with rescuing hostages while you're dodging and killing aliens. Certain villains you kill turn into ephemeral gold dust which, if Ekon collects in time, will add to his gold coin reserves. This currency will be used to purchase weapons such as a multi-blaster, which deals a higher amount of damage than your initial firearm.
Most of my time playing Ekon The Cyborg had me on sensory overload. Within a few seconds, I was running away from a group of Octoids while firing in their direction and also trying to find the location of several hostages. All of this non-stop action had me on an adrenaline rush for over an hour. Time flies when you’re having fun in a shooter game, and on a pure visceral level, Ekon the Cyborg delivers.
Since Ekon The Cyborg is free to play, you'll occasionally have to deal with pop up ads which may appear after a completed stage. Having this quick distraction wasn't such a big deal for me, since this game doesn't go for the money grab with mandatory in-app purchases. You can kill dozens of aliens, upgrade your weaponry and unlock chapters without paying for the privilege. Though ads are a necessary evil for games like Ekon The Cyborg to survive, they’re still an annoying part of the game play experience.
With more than 30 levels to play with, Ekon The Cyborg has a wide array of different Octoids to face. Some may come at you like zombies while others are ticking time bombs waiting to explode before your very eyes. Light blue octoids will shoot slow moving bullets that temporarily slow you down which, considering the number of aliens that are rushing towards your direction, can be fatal.
The Octoids don’t carry a distinct visual quality that will leave you gaping in wonder. Since the title gives you a top down point of view of the action, you’ll essentially be treated to different colored aliens which resemble walking jujubes. If the game itself wasn’t such an adrenaline-fueled adventure, these candy looking creatures would have been as annoying as the app’s freemium ads.
It may be an ode to a time gone by, but Ekon The Cyborg carries its own unique identity. Wicked Dog Games has released a free-to-play app that rewards iOS enthusiasts with tons of engaging gameplay, and fans of top down, third-person shooters won't be disappointed. There are still a ton of aliens to be killed in Neutron City, so my days in this one cyborg town are far from over.
This review is based on a downloaded copy of Ekon the Cyborg for iOS.