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When you can't help but whip through a couple dozen attempts each time you open up a game, it more than likely has its hooks plunged quite deep into your psyche. Luckily, Impossible Road is a game worthy of such obsession, as the unflinchingly difficult quest to guide a ball along an endless roller coaster track into the abyss rewards persistence, and wastes no time in getting you back into its dazzling world upon inevitable failure. And trying to circumvent the typical rolling approach to maximize your score? Well, that's just part of the appeal.
Each randomized course starts with a straightaway and then quickly twists like mad into the white haze, with touches of the left and right sides of the screen letting you navigate the turns. Rolling through numbered gates ups your score, but it's inevitable that you'll fall off of the route sooner than later. That's not necessarily a death sentence. In fact, a large part of the strategy in Impossible Road involves "jumping" – whether intentionally or otherwise – and falling to a much further part of the track in order to advance your score and keep the run alive. Only mere seconds are allowed to get back on solid ground again, otherwise the attempt ends.
At first, even double-digit scores may seem daunting. Getting a feel for the touch controls – plus the need to reorient yourself immediately once airborne – will show in your steadily advancing leaderboard placement. Even so, Impossible Road's constant challenge serves not to frustrate, but rather to put you in a Zen-like zone as you weigh risk and reward in split-second bursts – and it absolutely succeeds. Despite the simple approach and (elegantly) minimal visual and audio design, it's thoroughly gripping.
The bottom line. Impossible Road stands alongside Super Hexagon as one of the top tests of skill, reaction, and sheer pluck on the App Store.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 5.1 or later
Simple but challenging approach encourages obsessive, repeated play. Dazzlingly minimal presentation. Rewards both persistence and daring play.
Tilt controls would have been a nice option.