Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. At first glance, Ozone is like a perfect little jewel box of an app, an exquisitely crafted thing of beauty. It’s clear the developers put a lot of tender loving care into making Ozone look like a work of art, and it is definitely one of the loveliest looking apps currently available. Unlike interactive music apps like Auditorium and Fuji Leaves, Ozone is also quite unambiguously a game, although its success in that arena is not quite as triumphant as its art design.
Ozone works a bit like Labyrinth, in that you’re guiding a ball through a maze, but unlike Labyrinth, you control the ball with a simple D-pad in the corner which causes the ball to release puffs of air to push it in the right direction. Inertia, more than anything, is the key to your success, because if you deflate the ball entirely and it’s game over. Successfully navigating the maze means overcoming a variety of obstacles, collecting all of the golden orbs, and reaching the finish.
On one level, Ozone is a very relaxed affair, complete with a blissed-out ambient soundtrack and no clock ticking away at you, but the game is a bit at odds with its environment. The control mechanism is deliberately rough, but the mazes demand a certain amount of precision. As you might imagine, this creates a fair bit of frustration, and the somewhat clunky D-pad doesn’t help in that regard.
I wanted to be able to just unwind and enjoy the audio-visual spectacle, but instead I was constantly on edge from the ball careening into the walls. Hitting the walls doesn’t hurt you, but it is definitely very annoying at times, and in general, trying to negotiate some of the tighter obstacles felt a lot like trying to play mini-golf with a pool cue for a club.
There can be no doubt that Ozone rewards those with patience and an eye for beauty. If you can just let go of your gamer’s instinct long enough to sink into the environment, you will almost assuredly enjoy the extraordinarily lovely sights and sounds Ozone has to offer, but, if you’re anything like me, you will probably still be disappointed by the lack of a solid gameplay experience. Ozone may very well be a work of art, but it doesn’t quite yet succeed as a game.
Here is a video demo of the Ozone app on the iPhone
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