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Play: The simple, mesmerizing Impossible Road


You can now play anything from first-person shooters to role-playing epics on mobile devices, but there's still plenty of love out there for casual time-killers. Impossible Road has recently arrived on Android after a year-long residency in the iOS App Store, and it's one of those games you can splurge an hour on at home, or poke at for five minutes on the bus. Your mission: Guide a ball down a winding track for as long as possible -- kind of like a never-ending Super Monkey Ball level, but set on the Rainbow Road track of Mario Kart legend. Admittedly, there isn't much originality to the gameplay, but Impossible Road does have a quirky and compelling visual style. You're an all-white ball in an all-white world, with the only definition and sense of space given by a ribbon-like track of changing blues that stretches to infinity below. The almost tribal techno soundtrack is a little busier than what's on screen, and it manages to match the pace of the game well, while also being a constant reminder of your inevitable doom.

Like most games with "impossible" in their titles, it's not particularly easy, so if you want a shot at leaderboard fame, you better pull out something spectacular. Apart from blips where the track thins momentarily, your journey is obstacle-free, but the twists and leans of the randomly generated runs are challenging enough. Luckily, the tight and sensitive control scheme helps out as much as it can. Impossible Road made the right choice in opting for touch-based steering, as we couldn't see a game of this speed working well with gyroscopic control. Sticking to the track like glue is key in Impossible Road, not just because you need to pass through checkpoints to improve your score, but because flying off the side is almost certain death. The nicely tuned in-game physics allow you to control the ball with high precision, but get out of the groove on a particularly meandering section and it's easy to plunge into the abyss. You're afforded a generous amount of air control to try and get back on course, but float for a couple of seconds and the run comes to an end with a crescendo of white noise.

While you're always chasing the next high score, truth is you'll probably spend the majority of time racking up mediocre ones. It's good, then, that you can still reap a lot of satisfaction from events like nailing a really hard section, or recovering from a nigh-fatal fall. And, for advanced players, you can make it more interesting by purposefully "jumping" to short-cut sections of the track. Success is improbable, but not..

Impossible road is available on smartphones and tablets now for £1.49 via the Android Play and iOS App Stores.

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