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Don't Look Back

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Forward thinking

Product: Don't Look Back | Developer: Distractionware | Publisher: Distractionware | Format: iPad | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Don't Look Back iPad, thumbnail 1
Don't Look Back, says developer Terry Cavanagh - yet that's precisely what he's doing in releasing this game on iOS.

The maker of some of the most devilishly difficult retro-tinged portable games of recent times in VVVVVV and Super Hexagon preceded both with 2009's Don't Look Back. Now this wistful Flash platformer has made its way to iPhone and iPad.

Does it manage to mix formidable challenge with compelling gameplay like his other two gems?

Grave concerns

You can see the DNA of Cavanagh's more recent triumphs from the start. Don't Look Back starts with our pixellated protagonist stood in front of a grave on a rainy night. Minimalistic artiness - check.

Soon you're off running through fields and into a sprawling network of caves, with instant death only ever a slight miscalculation away. Near paranormal reactions required - check.

Except here the penalty for such human error is almost non-existent, with our hero instantly respawning on the very screen he died on. As the game is effectively a series of single-screen platforming challenges, you're never put back far.

Short sharp pain

This is good news, as the game's super-precise jumping challenges don't quite mesh perfectly with the new virtual controls. You'll find yourself dying a fair number of times because of a mis-press - or simply not being able to change direction quickly enough.

Despite these iffy controls, and some fairly exacting challenges (including two boss sections), Don't Look Back won't last you long.

It's incredibly short - you can play through it in well under an hour if your platforming skills are relatively accomplished. Even if they're not, the instant restart mechanic ensures that you'll be able to grind or even luck your way to progress with enough persistence.

Free and easy

Of course, we shouldn't pull Don't Look Back up for this too much. It was designed as a free Flash game, and Cavanagh has admirably stuck to his guns in keeping the iOS version free of charge.

It's a tiny morsel of entertainment, but it's entertaining nonetheless. There's a brilliantly maudlin atmosphere created by the sparse two-tone graphics and eerie soundtrack. The closing stretch, too, is oddly affecting.

Don't Look Back won't last you long, but it proves to be more memorable than any number of lesser-but-longer iOS platformers.
Don't Look Back
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 25 October 2012
Though it's extremely short, Don't Look Back sports an effective mix of rich atmosphere and pinpoint platforming - and it's free to boot
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