Recently, if you’ve listened to the podcast (if not, go do it. NOW. ), you’ll be aware that I was away on holiday. Now I don’t know about you, but if I’ve not got a film I want to watch with me, or there’s nothing on the entertainment system on the flight, then 11 hour flights tend drag on. Luckily, I’d recently downloaded this beauty of an app. Now the name leaves a bit to be desired, in fact, I downloaded this on a strong recommendation but I came close to giving up due to how many variations I typed into the app store. Hill Climb is a fun piece out of Fingersoft Ltd who’ve been in the news for recently becoming a publisher. This gem sees you climbing hills, in different vehicles whilst the driver appears to be asleep, with the aim of completing levels by going further and further distances … without breaking his neck. The perfect ‘Train Game’/’On the Move’, as we call them here at IM PLAYIN, eats up minutes without requiring too much hard work whilst leaving you wanting one more try. Well this did exactly that for me, even whilst rotating attempts with other people, I never wanted to give up once I’d failed, and that’s the sign of a fun little app.
I’ll happily and freely admit, there’s little to this game. Collect coins, get the fuel, don’t die. But it’s addictive. For a free to play game, there’s a choice of 19 vehicles, which you unlock via purchasing through the coins you’ve collected and whilst you can pay for more coins, there’s simply no need to. The same goes for the 19 different levels you can unlock (hmm, reckon 19 is Fingersoft’s lucky number or something?), varying from the Arctic to a junkyard, to the Moon and Mars. Each level is catered for different specialised vehichles, the Moon for example is better played in a car with quite high speeds as you’ll get plenty more air, therefore plenty more coins. One of the most likeable and appealing features, is the fact that you can unlock them in any order – sure, the later levels require more coins to unlock and certain vehicles require a lot more than others, but the choice is completely open to the player. For example, the tank was one of the first vehicles I unlocked, simply because I wanted that more than the others, despite it turning out to be a bad choice for most levels.
As well as unlocking more vehicles, you can also upgrade them. The monster truck, which I use the most, has 14 upgrades for its engine, 16 for suspension, 18 for tires and 10 for its four wheel drive, which progressively cost more and more to unlock. Different vehicles have different abilities to upgrade, the race car for example requires an upgrade to its downforce instead of its four wheel drive system, whilst the truck has 25 upgrades for its fuel. By upgrades, what I mean is that its a leveled upgrade rather than a component, but that’s good for someone like me who knows very little about cars and saves me reading through my options.
The levels system is Inception-esque. There are levels of design, which are called stages, but I always call levels, plus levels of distance within the stage. Stages, once unlocked, require you to keep driving for more distance and continuously upping the distance reached required which, once hit, gives a substantial amount of coins. Once you hit a target, you keep driving as it updates the next distance needed, instead of quitting you out and starting from scratch again.
Driving, put simply, is simple. There are two pedals on the screen, brake to the left and gas to the right, pretty self-explanatory what you need to do there. Drive through the gas to collect it, the same goes for the coins (well-duh!). Certain parts do require the car to be upgraded for you to eventually pass over, hence why you need upgrades, otherwise it would be just a continuous slow drive till you come across a hill. To be honest, the game is very simple the first few times and not very compelling. But once you start unlocking more vehicles and more stages, there is an addictive gem to be found in this well designed title, as well as a giggle here and there from the solid physics engine spinning you over and causing you to fail. Don’t expect huge things from this game, or it to change over the hours you play it, or even to have that much gameplay, but it’s fun and easygoing, doing the job of a train game of getting you through those hard to kill hours.