App of the Day: Astronot

App of the Day: Astronot

Forbidding planet.

A crashed spaceship, a mysterious alien environment, a network of hazardous caves lurking just beneath the surface: I am never going to get tired of this. It's one of the simplest set-ups in video games, and yet it almost always delivers.

Astronot is a case in point. With its wonderfully modest pixel graphics, its bare-bones animations, and its stripped-back controls, it's as basic a design as 2D platform games can get. It delivers on the Metroid template - the upgrades, the exploration, the lonely sense of mystery - spectacularly well. Do you like running, jumping, shooting and cave-diving? You are going to be out of your mind with happiness here.

Wade McGillis' game has plenty of treats in store for you, but my favourite element actually relates to something he's left out. Astronot's easily as complex as most other modern-day Metroidvanias when it comes to back-tracking, gear-gating, and remembering where you passed that last save point, but it refuses to coddle the player with any kind of map. If you want to keep tabs on your progress, you're going to have to get a paper and pen, in other words - and if you're really serious about the game, make it gridded paper while you're at it.

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