It’s time to trace line through the App Store from its beginnings in 2008 to today. That line is the game Trace by Kevin & Taylor Calderon, which started humbly as a free app back in October of 2008. Today, there’s the brand new Trace 2, which expands every aspect of the original, while maintaining the core concept. Trace is all about old school platforming with a unique twist that lets you draw your own platforms. That makes it sound like the game would be easier, but it’s anything but due to the ornate level design that expands the intricacies with the path drawing ability. The main takeaway is that there are multiple solutions as you try to reach the finish line anyway possible, and you can come up with your own pathways to do so.
The sequel is packed with play time thanks to 160 levels spread across eight worlds that provide nuances as you go. The first world is set-up like the original Trace, and then you’re introduced to varying enemy types, the ability to draw blocks, the need to add barriers to stop enemies, and levels that require you to draw, and then remove platforms. Each level has a few fixed paths, and the placement of your hand drawn pathways are dependent upon the position of enemies, and how they flow through a level. Every single level offers a unique layout to keep things fresh as you make your way forward. There’s also a three star scoring system based on time to add a little replayability. One nice addition is an instantaneous replay function to restart as soon as you die.
The entire game is presented with a hand drawn art style to fit in with the theme, and there’s a charming style from the overall simplicity. Through all of the new features, the game is still quite similar to the original, just fleshed out. The most noticeable aspect is that the levels really do blend together with nothing memorable as you storm through the levels. There isn’t the greatest complexity, and at times it feels like you’re just going through the motions. One of the biggest problems with the game is the basic control system of left/right arrows, and a jump button. Drawing pathways couldn’t be smoother, but there are numerous times that the game wouldn’t recognize my tap to try to move right while jumping. I had to be very deliberate after losing numerous lives after my character just stopped moving while going through a tight stretch of moving enemies. It’s an odd occurrence in an otherwise well made game.
Trace 2 ($2.99, Universal) stands out anew all these years later, and while it might not have the fanciest graphics, it offers a unique gameplay style that will keep you entertained throughout making it worth picking up.