The platformer is among the oldest type of game; and, as time has progressed, we've seen an increase in their complexity. Well, Emmet Morris chose to get back to the roots of platforming with Gleamer, a title that offers simple controls and an even simpler visual scheme. But, beneath that simplicity, does there lay complexity?
Gleamer's aesthetics are reminiscent of Tron or Geometry Wars. The player controls a bright, neon square, and tries to help it traverse a series of red and blue platforms set to a background of a green and black grid. The music's synth beats are reminiscent of low budget '80s sci-fi, but in a good way. Each level requires that the player collect a certain number of sparkling objects in order to progress, with an emphasis on doing so with as few deaths and as little time as possible.
The gleaming cube controlled by the player moves automatically — the only thing you have to worry about is when to tap the screen to make it jump. Every time the cube touches the edge of the screen, its speed increases. If the player so chooses, it's possible to find a small groove and rebound against the wall repeatedly to greatly increase the cube's speed, adding a bit of tactical depth to this simplistic platformer. The lack of control over the cube's movement is a double-edged sword, however, because while it's a deliberate, stylistic choice to influence the rhythm of gameplay, it can also be incredibly frustrating to repeatedly miss that last sparkle and get caught up in a loop, gaining speed against the wall until you have to start the entire level over because you're moving too damn fast to get on the platforms you want to reach.
There aren't any custom skins or power-ups to be found here — your only motivation for completing a level is to get to the next one. Some of the stages are surprisingly difficult, but if you find them too tough there is an option to spend an additional dollar to unlock everything the game has to offer. This seems like a waste of a buck given that the only thing you're unlocking are the levels you'll unlock simply by playing the game. In fact, it's likely that doing this would kill the player's motivation to continue playing since they already have access to every level. On the other hand, a dollar to unlock every level in the game is incredibly cheap if that’s the route you want to take, giving you the option to surf around to any level you want.
Gleamer's clutter-free art style and basic controls mask a game with slightly more complexity to it than you'd expect (but not much). Some players will likely find their in-game avatar -- the ever-moving cube -- annoying, but despite some minor gameplay complaints what lies here is still a fairly solid platformer designed for the bite-sized consumption needs of most iOS gamers.