Appearances can be deceiving and looking at any screenshot of Spirit and you’d mistakenly peg it as a Geometry Wars clone, but while the whole art style of Spirit owes Geometry Wars just about everything, its complete lack of any shooting mechanic sets it apart. There are no thumb sticks in Spirit so to move around you can just press down anywhere on the screen and just drag around from there. This form of relative control takes some getting used to but with a little practice it can be way more powerful than direct control as you gradually learn to keep your fingers out of the way of the action. While the controls do work exceptionally well they can be imprecise at high speeds, but this forms a large part of the challenge as the faster you go, the more you stand to gain.
Enemies are defeated by circling them with the trail you leave behind, the trouble is that the trail you leave doesn’t last long so if you move slowly you’ll only be able to capture a small area, move too fast and you run the risk of colliding with something on the screen. This balance of risk and reward makes a big part of the gameplay and you’ll want to circle as many enemies on the screen at once as you can to get a higher score. Getting a higher score than your previous is really all you have to shoot for here, there’s no unlocks, goals or progress, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it would have been nice if there was at least some form of score sharing between devices using OpenFeint or Scoreloop.
There’s a variety of enemies to see each with very different characteristics which spawn randomly every game so you’ll occasionally be pulling out larger scores simply due to the luck of the draw. Some foes are stationary and track you with ranged attacks where as others might move randomly or accelerate faster as you move. There’s definitely some unique behaviours here that you’ll have to stop and think about before moving in closely. There are a trio of game modes to choose from, two of which are the regular mode on different difficulty levels, the other however removes your ability to create your own vortexes and has you rely on touching floating ones to trigger them before you become overwhelmed by the enemies on the screen.
Much like the Geometry Wars games the graphics are fantastically striking with a basic vector style with plenty of fluidity and glow. The grid around you contorts as you move and vortexes are created when you touch your trail which sucks enemies into the abyss. The visual style is accompanied by some comparatively mellow music, as well as sound effects that again sound as if they were straight out of Geometry Wars.
Whether you’re on a tablet or a phone, Spirit is far more unique than it might at first seem and while it doesn’t have much of a hook to keep you returning beyond the gameplay itself, its gameplay that’s worth returning to.