Navigating through the AppStore to find innovative and different apps can be really frustrating. With all the dumb apps, $0.99 games and low quality clones in the top lists, its easy to miss some that deserve our attention. I was lucky to find Aurifi [iTunes Link] from British designer Punk Pie in the New and Noteworthy category in the AppStore.
Aurifi advertises as a new form of play for the intensive use of audio over graphics. During the tutorial I'm told I could actually close my eyes to play, which you can imagine, sounds very relaxing. The game is conducted by a nice female's voice that will guide you through the first stages teaching you how to interact with the game sounds to produce music.
The game is controlled using the multitouch screen to tap or slide and the accelerometer to tilt and shake. The game has different challenges that you must complete to progress forward. As the game develops, you will have to use your newly learned skills to fit with the rhythm of the background music, remembering how to complete every task. You will have to rely heavily on the headphones (make sure left and right sides are set correctly) since you will need to identify sounds coming from each side.
How does it play? The concept is highly innovative ditching traditional menus, pause and help. The only two options are to start a new game or continue with your progress, which can be saved in two slots. The screen will only display the characteristic Aurifi logo with a circle being used to indicate your tilt level. I playing laying on a sofa, but the tilt wouldn't adapt, and haven't found any option to tweak it as you can do in "Tilt to Live" for example.The voice over will instruct what to do after a countdown, which may vary from orienting sounds to the left or right channel, identifying high and low sounds and creating rhythms tapping and scratching on the screen. Every correct combination will earn you points (that will be updated to your Agon network account) and failing will inevitably trigger the annoying "Let's go through that again" message. Hands on video after the jump!
This is in fact the biggest drawback in Aurifi. The minimalist interface doesn't allow you to see where you are in the game and the challenges are repeated over and over. There is no option to "jump" or avoid these, and you'll be inevitably stuck at some point. I found really frustrating the tilting exercises: You are told to evade sounds on the right, but I'm not sure how to do it. Eventually after five "Let's go through that again" I managed to get an OK and pass to the next round. Maybe my ears are not as well educated as yours, but I finally managed to identify sounds, remember the instructions and the rules of every game. I guess this is the point of it.
Once you "survive" the lengthy tutorial, everything comes natural for some reason you start to feel more freedom. Relaxing… not. Complex and fun… a lot.
I'm the sort of person that would jump from the chair playing a platformer game to make the character jump… With Aurifi I have started moving my head to avoid sounds! Maybe Aurifi won't lead a new generation of games, but will be remembered for its attempt to do something different in the crowded AppStore.