Another day, another mobile review – but this isn’t just any game; this is 1337 & Senri’s wonderful iOS platformer, Leo’s Fortune, voted this month’s ‘best game’ on the App Store. That’s right, get comfortable, because reading this review may end with you spending $4.99 on an adventure that will push your mind, thumbs, and iOS device to their very limits.
Leo’s Fortune tells the unfortunate tale of Leopold, a very hairy, very rich furball, who explains to the player in his sultry tones that his gold was stolen from him. It’s up to you to travel through a number of different areas and puzzles, investigating Leo’s family members, a group of similarly furry furballs, one of whom he suspects has taken his gold. With Leo’s fortune on the line, the platforming magic begins.
The player uses one hand to move Leo around the screen, changing speed depending on the position of the thumb, and the right hand to make him jump or inflate like a moustachioed puffer fish. Depending on whether you are on land, air or water, this ability varies slightly. Sometimes Leo will float through the air to avoid dangers below or inflate to push a level, whereas other times the right ‘stick’ is used to build speed or dive deeper underwater. Another option for control, if on-screen buttons are preferred, is that the controls can be switched between invisible touch and visible on-screen buttons in the game’s settings. Though it’s only a small change, having the option to play however you feel comfortable is always a plus. Personally, I found the initial ‘invisible’ settings to work absolutely fine.
Before going into the different reasons that Leo’s Fortune may have been described as ‘best game’, I need to give the game’s platforming gameplay the recognition it deserves. Like past indie success Super Meat Boy, Leo’s Fortune houses intuitive, satisfying platforming that always keeps you wanting more. If you die, it doesn’t feel like a failure, but more like a lesson. You now know how to better utilize Leo’s furry utility of skills to your advantage, helping to surpass any future obstacles of a similar nature.
During my time with Leo’s Fortune, I was also time and time again reminded of one of my favorite recent platformers, Rayman Legends. Like this instant classic, Leo’s Fortune uses simple game mechanics in interesting ways. A level and its tricks are never repeated in the same way, and the pace is varying and fluid, switching between speedy platforming and slower, intricate puzzles. I never knew what was going to happen next, and I loved every second of it.
In addition, the game looks and sounds amazing. Quite frankly, it has charm by the moustache-load. Leo’s voice purrs through his tale of woe and theft, while the soundtrack – a mix of upbeat and melancholic melodies – carries him along his journey through the many different environments that the game has to offer. As I was saying previously, the game looks amazing, and this extends from Leo’s amorphous body to each different location, of which there are many.
The developers have described Leo’s Fortune as an “enormous, panoramic piece of art”, and they aren’t exaggerating even slightly. The game is lovingly animated, with the areas of forest seeming peaceful, while the gloomy, mechanical caverns of underground locations are brooding with deadly, yet pretty, puzzles.
Speaking of puzzles, this is something else Leo’s Fortune has nailed. They’re each unique, can be figured out without too much frustration, and are placed throughout levels in a way breaks up the pace nicely. An example of such a puzzle is when I took a breather from speeding through the tunnels of a cavern to turn a wheel that housed three balls inside its maze-like center (which you can see in the image below). Using a weight-activated platform above, I had to rotate the wheel and free the balls, which rolled further on ahead. These were then used in the next part of the puzzle to weigh down another platform, which opened up a blocked tunnel and lead me towards the end of the level. This puzzle, like every other, was just challenging enough without ever bringing my experience to a standstill; perfect puzzling, if you ask me.
If the initial enjoyment I’ve described isn’t enough of a reason to head back into Leo’s tale after completion – beautiful visuals, sound and puzzles; c’mon, what else do you need? – there are also three objectives to complete on each level, along with a number of gold coins to collect.
One objective is to collect all of the aforementioned coins, the easiest of the three objectives, the second is to not die at all (which will add serious hours to this game for those completionists among you), and the final is to finish a level within a given time. This added to my initial feeling of Leo’s Fortune having speed-run potential, and all three together give this game maximum replayability. In addition, getting enough of the stars you receive for completing objectives opens up bonus levels, completely focused on racing through a level as quickly as possible.
All of these times and achievements are shared through GameCenter, so that furball wannabes can duke it out with level completion times and so on. Commence the speed war.
When the Swedish 4-person team of 1337 & Senri set out to make a next-gen quality game for iOS devices, I’m sure they had no idea how well-received Leo’s Fortune would be, even if they had assembled all of the ingredients for a potentially amazing cocktail of gaming. However, this is one game that reaches the lofty heights that it set its sights on, combining a mixture of top-notch visuals, voice-acting and music, along with platform-puzzler gameplay that is in all ways as flawless, intuitive and fresh as the groundbreaking Rayman Legends. In my mind, that feels like one of the highest compliments I can give this game, so I hope it reaches the developers eyes in the same way.
If you own any single iOS device, this game needs to be on it. In fact, I’ll stop prattling on now so that you can start playing Leo’s Fortune immediately. Let 1337 and Senri show you just what your phone or tablet can really do. I think, much like Leo’s well-combed mustache, you’ll find it amazing.