Looking for Laika, from the Windows gaming giant Game Troopers, puts you into the role of a spaceman whose puppy's been kidnapped by aliens, and you're on a quest to rescue it. To get your loyal companion back, you have to navigate across a challenging maze of rotating planets littered with a multitude of dangers.
Looking for Laika has two gaming modes that can be brutal, along with simple controls and catchy graphics. It is not a Windows Phone game for the light-hearted, but if you're looking for a painfully difficult arcade game, Looking for Laika may fit the bill. The only downside to the game, asides from being brutally hard, is the lack of a trial version.
The main menu for Looking for Laika is somewhat minimal with options to jump into gameplay, mute the sound, view the online leaderboard and access the help screen. You will also find options to share the game, visit the game's Twitter or Facebook pages and set your screen name for the leaderboard.
The two gaming modes with Looking for Laika include "story" and "arcade". Story's a multi-level game with twenty-five worlds to conquer; it has you navigating through the maze of planets, avoiding dangers, collecting keys and ultimately reaching the exit portal. Arcade, on the other hand, is an endless runner-style game where you jump from planet to planet and see how far you can travel. The maze of planets changes with every game, keeping things from growing monotonous and predictable.
The mechanics of gameplay are consistent regardless of the gaming mode. Your spaceman will start out spinning from a planet that is at the left of the gaming screen. When the timing is just right, tap the screen to have your spaceman jump from one planet to the other. If you need a boost, you can tap the screen a second time to activate your jetpack for a short burst.
There will be objects between the planets you can use to bounce off and objects that will be disastrous if you hit them. Should you miss landing on a planet, your spaceman will fall to his fate.
There are a few gameplay differences in the two gaming modes, as you might expect. In Story mode you have three lives to work with. Lose one life and you return to the last planet to which you were safely attached. Lose all three lives and you restart the level from the beginning. You also will find hearts that can be collected for extra lives and diamonds to give your score a boost. The game is timed and the faster you collect the key and make it to the exit, the better your score.
Arcade Mode, again, is an endless runner style game where you jump from planet to planet and see how far you can survive. Where in the Story Mode you can always jump back to a planet, with the Arcade Mode once you leave the planet it bursts like a balloon. You are only afforded one life in the Arcade Mode.
In either game mode, timing is key. Jump too soon and your find your spaceman slam into an obstacle, jump too late and your spaceman simply flies straight up or backward. The latter can be fatal in the Arcade Mode in that once you leave a planet it is removed from play and you may not have a safe place to land.
A fun but but brutally difficult game
Looking for Laika has a lot of positives going for it. The graphics are a bit on the minimal side but work well. Game mechanics are simple, one-touch controls and gameplay is very challenging.
This Windows Phone game also has a few negatives going for it. While gameplay is challenging, don't be shocked if it continuously kicks your butt. If you have a fantastic sense of timing, you will still find gameplay challenging. The other negative is the game lacks a trial version and when the two are combined, I can see some regretting making the purchase due to the difficulty of gameplay.
Looking for Laika is a great game but really needs a trial version to let those of us who struggle with timing games see if it's worth the investment.
Negatives aside, I do think Game Troopers has added another hit game to their portfolio. It has an addictive quality that will keep you coming back for punishment and when you do make it to an exit portal, you feel as though you have accomplished something. If you like challenging, brutal puzzle games Looking for Laika is right up your alley.
Looking for Laika is available for both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile with support for low-memory devices.