It's understandable why Solar Flux HD is available only for the iPad, since the breadth of its experience would be hard to capture on a smart phone. As a space explorer, you must collect plasma and hurl it towards a slew of unforgiving suns. If the mission fails, all those beautiful stars will vanish into oblivion, thus darkening and destroying our universe. It's a spacey and ambitious concept, but does this physics based journey truly take flight?
Narratives set in the outer limits inhabit a broad and ever changing canvas. Upon first impression, Solar Flux HD is a meditative wonder, offering us visual landscapes which change ever so slightly with each level. Mixed in with a subtle score and an intuitive control mechanic, it's hard not to get caught up in the universe's intrinsic beauty. I've crashed my craft on many a moon, asteroid, and sun, and for the first time in a long while, I really don't care. Dying is inevitable, but expiring in the middle of four suns while trying to save the universe isn't a bad way to go.
Although this space opera's imagery and sound design are bound to inhabit my dreams, it also exists as a fascinating and highly challenging adventure. With each level, there are a multitude of factors that must be weighed in during your movements. Do you have enough fuel to reach the nearest sun? Are your shields strong enough to withstand the heat, or will you need a quick trip back to the docking station to refuel as well as replenish your strength?
Along with concerns about your craft's well being, you must also navigate around planets and asteroids, learning how to properly orbit from one area to the next and then pick the right time to throw the plasma into the sun. Each stage has a certain amount of plasma that needs to be distributed among several suns, and a simple miscalculation will end your mission.
Frustration may kick in if your craft consistently crashes and you just can't seem to get over the hump, but my only suggestion is to completely take in the intricacies of each level's puzzle. One particular level, named zig-zag, had me glued to my iPad for almost an hour as I tried to fly my ship across a huge distance without properly taking in my environment. Zig zag was an obvious clue, as I finally understood that the momentum from a plasma explosion will help me zig to the next sun. Once I just relaxed and let the cosmic flow take over, I progressed to the next stage.
It's amazing to think that for $3.99, iPad users will be submerged into a viscerally thrilling and compelling experience. If you want a cerebral journey with philosophical overtones, Solar Flux HD definitely fits the bill, but if you're craving a straight ahead puzzle game you also won't be disappointed. For me, double dipping on both camps has only upped my unabashed love for this starry dreamland.
With four galaxies and over 80 missions to explore, I'm still a wide eyed space cadet who's still trying to earn his wings. I have no idea if I'll resuscitate the universe's dying light, but maybe something just as important needs saving. To quote the Bard of Avon, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves..."
App Store Link: Dying: Solar Flux HD for iPad | By Firebrand Games and Entertainment Ltd. | Price: $2.99 | Version: 1.0.1 | 234 MB | Rating: 4+