Harness the wind to help you solve puzzles in this original platform game

Having started out life as a Wii game, LostWinds has now been transported on to iOS and optimised for the touchscreen device. The game sees you take control of Toku, a little boy given the power and protection of the wind to prevent the return of an evil spirit.

The game uses a platform puzzle format, with an interesting control setup that sees you create varying levels of wind by swiping across the screen, on top of touch-based navigation controls. Each area of the map that you explore is full of puzzles to solve, ranging from finding your way out of a cave to using boulders to hold down pressure pads and keep doors open. You will find yourself doing a lot of circling in LostWinds, revisiting locations once you’ve completed a side-task that allows you to move forward. But at no point does this become frustrating or repetitive – in fact, the developers seem to have got the balance between engagingly brain-teasing and turn-the-game-off annoying just right. The key is maybe that the game isn’t overly long, with around three hours total playing time.

The main star of the show though is the wind at your disposal. In the early stages of the game you can only create small gusts, with its primary use being to give Toku a little extra push in terms of reaching awkward ledges, and dislodging items you can interact with, such as edible fruit to regain health. As you progress through LostWinds you begin to unlock more powerful gusts and skills, eventually allowing you to create tornadoes. The wind controls can also be used to interact with other objects, for example, to burn down barriers to clear your path, or destroy plants to leave behind fresh seeds for you to plant. You can also control the flow of water with a flick of your finger, and any gust causes the surrounding trees and plants to rustle to life, showing a great level of physics details within the game.

You will also need your wind swipes to fight off the game’s villains – dark blobs that try to attach themselves to you and drain your lives away, as well as disguise themselves as birds that dive bomb you. As your powers increase through the game so will the size of these enemies, constantly testing you and your skills, adding a nice extra dimension to the puzzle-solving gameplay.

Visually LostWinds is great, now that it’s had a retina display update, the well-designed and colourful world of Mistralis is truly charming, with the Asian-style wind instrument that conjures the useful gusts brings a Zen-like calm to proceedings and becomes a very immersive feature.

The overall control setup is good, although it does have some slight issues. Holding down on either side of Toku will keep him running until you say otherwise, and while this is a good alternative to you having to tap a new rally point every few paces (which can get tiresome on the fingers after a while), things can get messy when you try and stop this movement. Another tap anywhere on screen stops Toku but it also sets that point as his new destination, meaning another frantic tap is needed to get him to stay still. When dangerous ledges are involved that could cost you an invaluable life, we recommend you stick to single tapping to navigate Toku forward.

LostWinds is, on reflection, a very well-made platform game for your iOS device, with enough of a good story and unique gaming experience to keep you coming back for more whenever you have a spare few minutes. It has an impressive level of physics-based movements and controls, and although we wish it could be just a little longer, you can’t help but fall for its smart gameplay and art style.

Rated 4 out of 5

Doesn’t blow away the competition, but deserves some of your time for its unique element control.