Last week, we brought you a preview of Dr. Jolt on iOS, the electric new puzzle game that sees you helping a scientist create contraptions using electrical wiring, lightbulbs and more, all with the power of touch. Now that we've had a chance to hands-on with this puzzling new game from Side-Kick Games, we've found that it's a game that actually suffers from being free-to-play.
Each of Dr. Jolt's levels comes with the same basic goal: to light up the entire stage by tapping and holding your finger on the screen to release electricity. As you work to light up all of the lightbulbs on the board at the same time, you'll need to worry about fences, relays and more, along with your overall battery energy meter. This "battery power" runs down each time you place your finger on the screen to release electricity, and it doesn't recharge between stages.
While the energy will recharge slowly over time, you can also purchase battery packs with real money or coins that are earned by playing. Unfortunately, you'll need to spend a lot of coins or real money to actually make a lot of progress in Dr. Jolt, especially if you're the type of player that needs to see each step of the puzzle unfold visually, rather than being able to manipulate everything in your head. That is, as you try to work on one side of a puzzle board to light up one set of lightbulbs, you might find yourself needlessly spending battery power that limits how long you can play the game in a single sitting.
On the other hand, if you're a player that simply needs to look at a stage in order to find the solution, you'll need to look fast, or a full-screen ad will pop up in your way. Early on, the game adds in a collectible star mechanic, with stars needing to be activated alongside light bulbs, and this can greatly increase the time you spend staring at a stage. It's disappointing to see an ad break that level of concentration just because the game is free-to-play and needs that extra outside monetary support.
As you complete whole level sets and earn enough coins, you can eventually purchase free upgrades like an increase in your battery's capacity or an item that simply increases your energy's recharge speed, but these become expensive rather quickly, encouraging the use of real money even more.
All in all, Dr. Jolt has a fun little concept, but it would be a much more entertaining experience if we didn't have to worry about battery power and could employ trial and error freely to finish each stage without running out of juice. I know I'd personally be fine paying $0.99 for an ad-free, battery-free experience, but alas, that sort of streamlined gameplay setup simply isn't available where it should be. If you're interested in trying Dr. Jolt for yourself, you can now download the game for free on ether iPhone or iPad.
Download Dr. Jolt on iTunes >
Have you tried Dr. Jolt? What do you think of the game's inclusion of limited battery life, instead of limitless play? Sound off in the comments!