The Title screen for Hot Mess

Secret Library has a track record of great games.  I remember when I interviewed them during the launch of their first game, Centrifeud, for iOS. It was the first local multiplayer iPad game that I ever played and with a simple, yet addicting design. Their second game, Cool Pizza, is still one of my favorite games for iOS and their latest game, HOT MESS, is right up there with the last two games.

Like all Secret Library games, HOT MESS excels in four key areas:

  • Controls
  • Art
  • Music
  • Level Design

In HOT MESS you control a fire fighting robot that must save couples from burning buildings. It is your job to put out both figurative and literal fires.  The control scheme is a simple set up.  There are two buttons on the bottom corners of the screen. One button turns the robot to the left and the other two the right.  Pressing the two together will make the robot spray water.   As you navigate through buildings you must avoid traps floors, enemy robots, and the building’s walls.

level select screen

What I enjoyed about the game is the controls and level design.  When I started the game I didn’t really understand what was happening. I was completing levels without difficulty, and I actually thought that I was doing something wrong.  But the game is designed to ease you into the controls and objectives.  Once you master the controls the levels will get progressively harder. Hallways become narrower, enemy robots will block your path (and gang up on you), and speed boost, while helpful, can become problems as you can easily break through a wall and fall through the floor. It’s this combination of controls and level design that make this game so addicting. Just when you think you’re good enough, there is a new level to challenge your skills.

Of course controls and design need some type of artistic flair and HOT MESS delivers on both accounts.  Secret Library continues their tradition of great game music, with music duties handled by Eric Guenther.  The music has the 8-bit sound that most of us grew up on, however I wish there was more variety of music.  While I like the main track, I wish different buildings had different music tracks.  The 8-bit sprite art is on point, and combined with the music really deliver on that NES feel.

putting out fires

So outside of a limited soundtrack and slow start, should you buy this game? YES.  HOT MESS is worth the $1.99.  It continues to improve on the track record set forth by previous Secret Library games Cool Pizza and Centrifeud.  Its tight level design and ‘pick up and play’ philosophy make it the perfect couch game for your iPad.

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