(Talksauce is a weekly editorial that represents the opinions of Tapsauce editor-in-chief Jacob Hall, not Rocksauce Studios. If he says something stupid, blame him and him alone.)
Here’s the honest truth about how people (myself included) use apps: once we’ve downloaded and opened a new app, it’s got about five minutes before we decide whether or not it’s staying on our smartphone. I’m especially vicious when it comes to choosing what gets to live on on my iPhone and what gets sent sailing into the deletion abyss. When the very nature of your job has you around apps every day, you get picky.
Unfortunately, this means that the occasional good app ends up as collateral damage.
Earlier this week, I reviewed a game called The Last Driver and I gave it a C. Although the game looked nice, I thought it handled sloppily and felt that the gameplay was incredibly unbalanced, which resulted in a gorgeously rendered but frustrating experience. I played the game for about an hour before writing my review, convinced that I had seen everything that I needed to see. If I don’t like a game, I’ll normally delete it from my phone as fast as humanly possible, but I hesitated with this one. For some reason, I decided to give it one more try…
And I’ll eat my words: The Last Driver is not a bad game. In fact, it’s a very good game that I’ve been playing rather frequently in the 48 hours since my review. The problem with The Last Driver is that it only gets good with repeated play, after you’ve spent the time and earned the points to upgrade your vehicle. Once upgraded, your vehicle starts to behave like you think it should. Your health bar doesn’t vanish in the blink of an eye. You can actually recover from your mistakes and salvage a run. With repeat play, The Last Driver transforms from a C to a B.
There’s a big problem with The Last Driver and the blame can be split into two paths. On one level, I’m at fault: I didn’t give the game the time and attention necessary to cast a proper opinion and I was wrong. However, the game’s developer isn’t sin-free here. By making the game so awkward and unplayable in the early stages, they scared off a potential user (and they’re lucky I decided to give it one more go). Look at Angry Birds or Tiny Wings or even more complicated games like Call of Cuthlhu: The Wasted Land. With those games, you either understand how to play them within thirty seconds or the game takes its time acclimate you to it and make sure you know all of your options. The Last Driver is the definition of an arcade-y pick-up-and-play game: the fact that I wasn’t sold on it in two minutes is a serious problem, especially for a free game that users won’t have any qualms with deleting.
Today, our own Steven Walker wrote a great article with a final message that I’ll deliver with more blunt force: keep it simple, stupid. Sure, your game may have a “leveling up” system that rewards players, but what good is that if I get rid of the game before I discover it? Consider this a fable for the mobile age: your app may be the best one ever created, but if you can’t grab anyone in those first few minutes, it’ll remain undiscovered forever.