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Destructoid review: Zero Chance (iPhone)

7:00 PM on 01.20.2009 // Dale North

I'm not sure how to describe Zero Chance, a new game for the iPhone and iPod Touch. There's really nothing like this anywhere else. At first appearances, it's a space shooter, but as we got closer we saw that there's definitely something else going on here. And maybe not so much shooting after all.

Regardless of what it really is, the visual presentation was nice, and there's not a lot of these types of games out for the platform, so our interested was definitely piqued. So, we gave it a spin. 

Read on for our review of Zero Chance.

Zero Chance (iPhone)
Developed by Phillip Luftensteiner
Published by
Phillip Luftensteiner
Released on January 9, 2009 (App Store)

It turns out that there's very little shooting going on. At first glace, Zero Chance looks like a cross between a third-person spaceship shooter and a top-down one. In fact, you can even change these views on the fly. But the fact of the matter is that you're not shooting at stuff as much as you are dodging it. This is actually more of a space object dodging game than anything else.

Unfortunately, dodging objects in space sounds quite a bit less appealing than shooting objects in space. And it is. You'll slide your fingers and tilt your iPhone to guide your ship under floating space debris, through narrow passageways and over meteors. Some objects can't be overcome unless you switch to an overhead view, so you'll find yourself switching back and forth throughout the title. This all may sound cool -- and the game definitely looks cool -- but we're sad to say that the whole experience just isn't very entertaining. 

There's a variable speed slider on the left hand side of the screen, letting you pick up the pace a bit, perhaps making things seem a bit more involved. But when you get past the animated streaking starfields in the background you realize that the game is still moving pretty slow, and that you're really just flicking your finger back and forth to move through a sort of maze. As you progress through the game, these "mazes" become more difficult, but things tend to move more to the side of frustrating than entertaining or challenging.

Should you miss sliding your finger in time to dodge another oncoming object, you'll hit that object with a dull thud, with the most primitive sound effect imaginable to go alongside this impact. We're not sure if the retro-ish sound design was intentional, but when put with the flashy 3D graphics, it just seems awkward and out of place.

There is a bit of shooting in the game. It's pretty limited in use and function; you'll touch and hold a spot on the screen to fire a continuous laser blast. Again, we're not sure if the sound design choice here was intentional or not, but this laser blast is accompanied by an annoying test tone-sounding beep that lasts as long as you hold it down.

The standout here is the graphics. It's all stylized, sharp-looking 3D graphics for the in-game objects and the ship you fly. The game does tend to drop polygons in the stages and areas where there are more objects, though. This may be for visibility's sake, but its pretty distracting to the player, and it makes for an unpolished look.

While the looks and style drew us in, we're sad to say that there isn't much of a game here. It's too bad, as the ideas behind the control and movement were pretty clever. If anything, some of the framework in Zero Chance could be used for a more advanced, more entertaining game in the future. But as it stands now, there are better things to spend your $3.99 on.

Score: 3 -- Poor (3s went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have promise, but in practice the game has failed. Threatens to be interesting sometimes, but rarely.)


Dale North, Former Dtoid EIC
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I am Destructoid's Editor-In-Chief. I love corgis. I make music. more   |   staff directory

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