Our App Of The Year developer returns with another engaging story
Developing a worthy follow-up to the award-winning Fantastic Flying Books must have been a tough task for the team at Moonbot Studios. What it has created is Numberlys, a new interactive story of five friends in a world without letters, and how the dullness of their world inspires them to invent the alphabet we know today.
Much like the Morris Lessmore story in Fantastic Flying Books and its nod to silent cinema, it’s clear where the inspiration for the world we’ve been sucked into comes from. Numberlys feels like it’s set in Thirties New York, with this atmosphere resonating to such an extent that you’ll expect to see King Kong or Superman appear at any moment. There is a deliberate distortion in some of the black and white scenes that creates the impression you’re watching an old Pathe newsreel, and it instantly draws you in. The central characters are a big draw, too. Appearing in all shapes and sizes, they quickly become endearing, even before the app becomes interactive, and you must help them in their quest.
Numberlys has been designed to wow youngsters, but there is enough magic here to keep any watching parent entertained throughout the journey. The use of a narrator with a comical accent and highly pitched tones of the main characters emphasise the young age of the target fanbase, and anyone with any prior experience of Moonbot apps will know that listening is just as important as seeing when it comes to its apps. In this sense, the musical score serves almost as its own character – whether via the factory horns or the gloop dispenser, the sounds and music on display in Numberlys immediately takes it to a separate level to many other apps out there. This feels as if it has been painstakingly designed from the ground up, with the audio development taking place alongside everything else, and not merely as an afterthought.
After the initial cut scene, the interactive nature of the app begins in earnest, as you try out different parts of the number factory for yourself before the letter building begins. The process of creating letters is down to you, as is your work in a series of interactive games to manipulate numbers and reshape them. The user then shoots, bounces and stretches their way through the alphabet in a variety of interactive games and challenges.
One of the only issues we have with this app is the lack of diversity when it comes to these mini games. For example, you will bounce and split letters more than once, as well as stretch or shoot them, and the feeling of repetition does start to enter your head as you get towards the back end of the story.
The other nagging issue is the length of the story, and while it is great to get such content for the price, you might find yourself checking your watch once or twice when you realise you’re only at the letter ‘R’. Our worry is that some kids might not be able to hold out for the full 26 letters, no matter how good the story is.
Questions over the overall enjoyment of the app do eventually start to creep in, but thankfully the story’s finale, which we won’t spoil, did reassure us hugely.
In short, Numberlys has all the charm and storytelling nostalgia that is becoming Moonbot’s calling card, and keeps up the incredibly high standards that it has set for the app market.
One or two little issues are the only things that stop Numberlys from being perfect.
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