Friday, 26 September 2014

Boson X (PC/Linux/Mac/Android/iOS)

Being a physicist never looked so exhausting. Or so death defying. Mu and Heyo's Boson X is a runny, jumpy platformer of the breed that has been made world-famous by games like the viral leviathan that is Temple Run, and like all of its brethren a spiritual successor to the modern classic Canabalt.

This particular endless runner takes a graphical style begging to be described as 'Super Hexagon meets Another World' and sees the player in charge of a miniature scientist taking a really hands-on interest in particle-colliders. Simplicity and ramping difficulty are key players in this game, which eschews the bells, whistles and fripperies of bonuses and rewards in an appropriately scientific just the facts sort of way. This is gameplay pared down to a pure and simple form; Occam’s Razor taken to the run and jump genre.

Boson X gives uncultured louts like your correspondent a whimsical and totally false mental image of what happens in a particle accelerator, and piles an overflowing laboratory trolley of fun on top as our little hero (or heroine) runs full-tilt through a danger-infested Large Hadron Collider-type affair to build up energy and unlock particles. It's a simple game, conveniently so since as I write this I'm suffering from an AC joint dislocation and can barely use my right hand (and don't ask me how long it took me to type this), with the cursor keys the only controls you need. Jumping forward and side to side are dealt with in about seven seconds of tutorial flashes in the first level, and from there you're on your own, Mister/Miss/Missus/Mizz Scientist.

Running over glowing blue tiles builds up your charge, up to the point when 100% is reached or exceeded and SCIENCE happens, with the discovery of the particle you’ve been running after and the eventual explosive destruction of your sprinting, poindextrish avatar (the elbow patches are a wonderfully professorial touch). Red tiles sap your energy. This is how I think science works now.

The graphics, as already mentioned, carry a heavy aroma of Another World which is a catnip scent to anyone who cut their teeth in the Amiga days, or indeed for anyone who has good taste in cool-as-ice polygon people running around on the screen.

Soundtracktually speaking, Boson X’s visuals and gameplay are backed by a spangly electronica score which nestles neatly with the theme of the game, and is well paced to the action with each level having a different background tune.

A theme of clinical, scientific cleanliness runs through the game's design and layout. Even the user interface for level selection feels like bespoke laboratory software, with the little beeps as the user cycles through level options the most perfect, functional chirps.

Boson X is available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux machines and also for Android and iOS devices, where it looks to this reviewer (and his horribly cracked, beaten up Samsung Galaxy Ace "smartphone") like it would be top-notch in a portable setting. As well as the super deluxe £1.99 Steam version there's also a free 6-level build to download from the developer's website. With some badasses on the internet leaderboards boasting of charges accumulated in excess of 600%, Boson X is clearly a game that takes seconds to learn and aeons to master. Best to hit the ground running, then.

Download the free six-level version of the game here (direct from the developer's website).
Buy the extended version of the game here (from the Steam page).
Buy the Android version here (from Google Play).
Buy the iOS version here (from iTunes).
4 out of 5