Review: IonFx Obulis: The Second Epoch

Reviewing software products that have just entered the market is a lot of fun. They’re new, there are news posts about them on blogs, and there’s are better chance of other reviews about the software being posted. It’s all about letting the consumer know that the product exists, and what it is about. However, it’s also great fun to bring a game to your attention that has been around a little longer, but that still is a lot of fun to play. That’s why today I’m bringing you a review on a game from IonFx, called “Obulis: The Second Epoch“.

Obulis: The Second Epoch is the sequel to the first Obulis game bu IonFx, but why review the first part if the second part is also available? However, it is of course good to know that if you like this game, there is another one just like it which provides you with many new levels.

Read on after the break for the entire review!

Installation and trial

Installation is straigth forward. The trial comes in a .exe installer, letting you install the trial from your PC. The trial, however, is different from the trials you normally see. Normally trials have a time limit of 7, 10, 14, or another amount of days. This lets you discover the software for some time, and then you will have to decide if you want to purchase the software. Purchasing normally gives you a registration code, with which you can “unlock” the rest of the game. With Obulis, this is different. First, the trial is not time-limited. You can, however, only play until level 9. The full 70 levels are only available in the full version. Being able to just play the first levels does show you how the game works, and it gets pretty challenging already! Second, the trial and the full version are two different files, so after purchasing, you will need to perform another installation. The full version doesn’t keep your old savegames, since the full version and trial are installed in seperate folders. Luckily, I found that you can just copy your savegames (“save.000” etc) from the “Obulis TSE Demo” folder to the “Obulis TSE” folder. Now you don’t have to play the first levels again!

Basic screens, starting the game

After launching the game, just “Tap To Start”. The entire game is controlled by the stylus, but I’ve found it possible to control certain elements with my fingers too. Tapping chains can best be done with a stylus, but in some occasions it can be convenient to quickly tap the Cut button with your finger. Keep this is mind! =)
Anyway, the “Tap To Start” should be tapped, and then you’ll need to start playing on one of the four available accounts. Editing your Player name is convenient. The buttons are large, you can enter special characters, caps, and your Player name is not limited to 6, 8, or 10 characters, as with some other games. No, here you can create long usernames, so that (if it’s reasonable) you should be able to pick the username you normally use elsewhere too. I really don’t like that some games don’t allow me to use “Spmwinkel” as Player name, but I’m glad to say that this is not a problem here!

After creating a new Player, you are shown a “How to Play” screen. I can repeat the text that is displayed on this screen, but that’s just not necessary. The game screen will be filled with one or more ropes and chains hanging from the ceiling. Attached to those chains will be a ball, of a certain color. Your goal is to “guide” the ball to the pot of that same color by cutting the chains. The How to Play instructions are really easy, and so is the game. Well, the first few levels are…

Just tap the “OK” button in the bottom right, and you’ll see the next screen. This has a double function, it’s consists of both your game progress and the settings for the game.

First of all, you see your current level. After completing a level you will still be able to play your previously beaten levels, and after completing all 70 levels you will probably have forgotten about most of them, so these will still be challenging again.
Then there is the option to switch off the music and game sounds. The music and game sounds are relaxing, which is a good thing. The game can be REALLY frustrating at moments, so it would be terrible to have music that also makes you nervouse. =P
The Back button takes you back to the Player selection page, and the Begin button starts the currently selected level.

Gameplay

Since the gameplay (not the game itself!) is pretty easy and already explained before for the biggest part, what should we do here? I could make this a really short review, but instead of doing that, I will just show you how the first couple of levels look like. This will immediately give me the oppertunity to introduce you to some of the items you will see during the game. First, lets start with… Level 1!

The left screen shows you the start of the level. You see a blue ball, attached to two chains. The blue ball means that the ball will need to go into a blue pot. This is convenient, since we can also spot a blue pot on the screen! In the bottom left is a white icon with a PDA in it. This is the Pause button. The Pause screen (on the right) is simple, from there you can Resume or Restart the level, or Quit to the main screen.

You will need to guide the ball to the pot. To do this, first tap on a chain. In this example, I tapped on the left chain. The chain gets selected, which you will see by the yellow highlight. You don’t need to keep the stylus on the screen, so after selecting a chain you can take the stylus of the screen. This is needed when you want to select a swinging chain, but need to wait for the perfect moment to cut the chain. In order to do that (cut the chain), tap the scissors button at the bottom. (I’ll refer to this as “tap the “Cut” button”). Then, the left chain will be removed. Since the ball now only hangs from the right chain, gravity will cause the chain to start swinging from left to right.

Now you will need to select the remaining chain, which you are going to cut in order to release the ball. After releasing the ball in this level, two things can happen. Missing the pot, like in the screen to the right, will result in a failure. “Try again”…

…as you can see on the left here. Or, if you succesfully manage to drop the ball in the pot, you will see the “Success!” screen and the next level is unlocked. You are taken back to the basic screen, and level 2 is selected as your next level.

Level 2 will start with a grey ball and a red ball. Obviously, the red ball will need to go into the pot. But if you allow the grey ball to go into the pot before the red ball, it’s game over! In order to complete this level we will first select the right chain and press the Cut button in order to drop the red ball, so that it will lie completely still. (See the screenshot to the right)

Then, also the chain to the left will need to be selected and Cut. Then, the grey ball will fall onto the corner of the structure below it, causing it to bounce to the right. Eventually it will bounce into the red ball, which will cause the red ball to roll into the pot, while the grey ball will lie still (or roll a little bit to the left really slowly). Another success!

Next in line is level 3. Here timing will start to get involved, and you also need to pay attention to the colors. Red ball, red pot. Yellow ball, yellow pot. First you will need to cut the most left chain, causing the yellow ball to swing. Now you will need to select the remaining chain for the yellow ball, and cut it at the correct moment. This will cause the yellow ball to bounce into the red ball. Bouncing back to the left, the yellow ball will fall into the pot, while the red ball starts to swing. This game reminded me of my Physics classes! Don’t know if that’s a good thing… =P
Let’s do one more level.

Level 4 introduces a new, big, heavy ball. If you cut the vertical chain which is holding the purple ball up, the purple ball will bounce into the blue pot, causing it to swing (see the image to the right). Now quickly cut the remaining chain that holds the purple ball, in order to drop it into the pot before it touches the pot again. Then, select the chain holding the blue ball and cut it when the pot is directly under it. You need to do this quickly, because if you wait a couple of seconds the blue pot will stop moving and you need to restart the level. Something funny is that you can also cut the right chain of the blue POT, in addition to the chains of the balls. This will cause the pot to swing even more! Remember this for levels in the full version!

Conclusion

The phrase “Easy to learn, difficult to master” is often used, and sometimes it’s even starting to annoy me. However, if you look at the “How to Play” screen and compare that to the screen of level 8 or 18, you will see that this is pretty challenging already! So, in this situation, the phrase certainly applies.

The graphics and animations are generally smooth and cool, but on a very rare occasion I experienced that the graphics in a level were not. If timing is involved, this might make things extra tricky, but I’ve been able to complete the levels nonetheless. While 70 levels means that the game can be finished, you might still like to replay the game once in a while to see if you can still finish it. You’ll defenitely forget the solution to some of the levels. and some levels are just hard to finish because your timing must be exactly right.

IonFx Obulis is a very original game that requires good timing, puzzle skills, and creativity in order to solve all levels. The way you’re required to think outside the box makes you wish that there was an endless supply of levels. That isn’t possible of course, but there is a first edition of Obulis with many new levels!

I’ve tested the game on my HTC Wizard, WM5, QVGA screen. The product website lists that Obulis: TSE will run on WM2003 or higher, that you’ll need 10 MB’s of storage space (can be on storage card), and a 200 Mhz processor or better. Screen resolution support is not mentioned, so try the game first if you have a square screen!
Obulis: TSE is available for just $ 6.99 (limited time discount!), just like the first Obulis game.

Finally, some links:
The IonFx website
Obulis: TSE, product page
Download Demo
Purchase

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