Pivvot: Meet Your Newest Game Addiction

I’m a sucker for a great iPad game. I like games I can pick up and play really quickly, since my time is often short and since I’ve got a bit of a short attention span. (Coincidentally, we can probably blame the iPad itself for that.) A great game, though, needs to reward me enough to make me keep coming back. It needs to surprise me. It needs to make me serious.

These days, I’m fortunate to be living in an era where great games like that are often found on the App Store. Pivvot is one of those games that rewards me for coming back. It surprises me. It makes me jump. I feel like it exercises my brain. But at the same time, it’s also an insanely cool concept. Let me tell you what there is to love about this.

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Pivot Your Pivvot

Pivvot is all about survival. This game is all about controlling a pin that’s gliding along a rail. Tapping on the right side of the screen swings the pin like a pendulum towards your thumb and around and around again. Tapping on the left side of the screen spins it in the opposite direction.

Pivvot is all about avoiding obstacles.

Pivvot is all about avoiding obstacles.

As you progress along the rail, a series of obstacles will begin to appear. You’ll have to swing the pin in order to avoid them. If you hit them, you’ll be backtracked a little bit. Sound simple? Well, it’s easy to understand, but difficult to master.

The game is intensely colourful and fun to look at, and house-like music thumps in the background. You’ll collect little power-ups of sorts on the way, although they function more like coins in Mario do. They simply exist. The music changes if you get enough of them. The game changes too, all the colours fading away to a white and muted colour scheme. Conceptually, this isn’t easy to explain. But it’s very cool to watch, and even cooler to hear.

The colours become more muted when you're still collecting items to get the music pumping again.

The colours become more muted when you’re still collecting items to get the music pumping again.

Pivvot is essentially a puzzle with a thumping, loud soundtrack. It’s designed to be addictive — you just need to make it past that next obstacle, after all — but it’s got nothing but respect for its players.

The Details

There are a couple of different modes: Voyage, Endless Mode (with a couple difficult variations of each), and Berserk. You have to beat the easier modes before getting access to the difficult modes, but each one is appropriately titled. Voyage ends, while Endless Mode does not (as the name would suggest). Your incentive to keep playing comes from your inevitable addiction to the concept and the Game Centre scores that are quietly running in the background.

You can watch and share replays of your last attempt.

You can watch and share replays of your last attempt.

There are no cheap gimmicks here. If you quit the app, it’s going to remember where you were and bookmark that spot. The game saves its data to iCloud, so you can pick up your iPhone and keep up from where you left on iPad. So while the game is trying to hook you, it’s not trying to be unfair.

Beyond that, there are no ads. Thankfully, the developer knows that people are already parting with their money and doesn’t even ask for any further in-app purchases. This game doesn’t ask anything more than it should, and I think that’s great.

The obstacles get more difficult to navigate as you move through the game.

The obstacles get more difficult to navigate as you move through the game.

The game’s design is simple and sparse, and very iOS 7-like. There’s no wasted space. In fact, there’s very little text. There’s no story or expansion packs; this game simply wants to be played. In today’s world, this is a noble cause.

Curiosity Killed the Cat

I mentioned earlier that a great game has to make me curious. There is definitely an indefinable curiosity with Pivvot. This is the kind of game that you want to play just so you can see what’s coming up on the next curve. It’s addictive, but not in the same way some popular games are. This one’s just got a certain magic to it.

Expect to see this a lot.

Expect to see this a lot.

Consider the way that the screen mirrors itself every time you fail (and you will fail a lot). Despite the fact that you’ve just attempted this section, simply mirroring it will make you feel like you’ve never been there before. I know it’s hardly revolutionary, but it’s smart.

It also has the stunning ability to make you feel like an idiot for being unable to complete the same small area despite your repeated attempts. It’s not your fault — after all, things constantly feel backwards because of the mirroring — but it’s intentionally frustrating. It naturally creates the need to get past this area to see what comes next.

Graphically, there's lots of small particle effects. This is no Infinity Blade, but it's still easy on the eyes.

Graphically, there’s lots of small particle effects. This is no Infinity Blade, but it’s still easy on the eyes.

The game doesn’t have a multiplayer mode, which it shirks, but it does integrate nicely into Game Centre as well. The game’s level systems are tracked and points are measured in their own unique way. It offers its own motivation.

Minor Nuisances

There are some things I don’t like about the app. The colours change, but I wish I changed more often to better keep up with the pumping of the music. I admittedly am not that great at the game, so although I’ve played my fair share of it, there’s a chance that the colours change more later. But if that’s the case, they still need to start changing more earlier.

You can turn the music down, but you can't turn on other music while you play.

You can turn the music down, but you can’t turn on other music while you play.

Finally, although I think the music is interesting, I wish there was a way to bring your own music into the game. If I could stream Rdio while playing the game, but also hear Rdio start fading out and get tinny at the appropriate moments during the game, that would make for an experience that feels constantly new. As it stands, the music is one of the parts of the game that feels old very quickly. It’s a shame, because it feels essential to the flow of the game, but I grew tired of it very quickly. (There is an option to turn the music off in the Settings.)

Final Thoughts

Pivvot is a rare example of an iOS game that captures both my imagination and attention. It’s the rare sort of game that I’m texting my friends about it and showing off when they’re around. Graphically, it’s not stunning. Conceptually, it’s invigorating. This is unique.

It’s also a lot of fun. Despite the fact that the music gets repetitive, the game itself has an oddly addictive quality that keeps you coming back, even when you get frustrated. In that sense, it’s magical. And that’s one of the reasons it’s a perfect fit for iOS. Pivvot earns a very solid recommendation.


Summary

Despite the fact that the music ages quickly, this game is inventive and a lot of fun. Highly recommended.

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