Sawbuck Gamer

A Tilt Too Far

I Am Level takes inspiration from pinball, but it doesn’t have the right moves.

By Matt Kodner • October 14, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

Tilting should not be taken lightly. In pinball, the motion of nudging the machine one way or the other can be the difference between a drained ball and an instant game over. But if you nudge the cabinet too much, the game loks you out. The backglass pronounces “TILT” in big glowing letters to maximize your shame. If you can get the shaking motion just right, though, you can divert the ball’s path from certain doom, and the game will be none the wiser.

I Am Level uses tilting as the main method of controlling your character, who resembles a pinball. Instead of rolling your “hero” directly, you tilt the environment, and the character rolls with it. It combines the trappings of pinball with your typical “jump around and find the exit” game. Stripped of conventional abilities, your little guy has to rely on common pinball mechanisms to traverse the world—using a plunger to jump or a flipper to sail through the air. But the game doesn’t move quite right. Unlike every pinball machine ever, I Am Level is a slog. Simple movement is a slow, unrewarding process that makes the simplest tasks take an eternity to line up. There’s no thrill to the game and none of the kinetic rush pinball can deliver. That’s apparent from the first tilt.

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8 Responses to “A Tilt Too Far”

  1. beema says:


  2. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    The sequel to this game will be “I AM ERROR”, and bugs will render it unplayable.

  3. Dariusz G. Jagielski says:

    Great game, love it. Thanks for what you are doing, Matt.

  4. Jovebob says:

    The movement of the character was made to be slow on purpose I think. I don’t have any idea what this guy is complaining about, this is an excellent indie game and it should be played by everyone.

  5. I feel like you’re being strangely dismissive of this, I realise these articles are normally short but you don’t mention the Metroid like progression or the ZX Spectrum inspiration for its 8 bit graphics. I suppose if its core gameplay didn’t feel right to you then there’s not much that could change your opinion – though playing on a phone is quite a different experience from the free browser version.

    The guy who made it is a friend of mine so I may be slightly biased but I genuinely enjoyed this game in a way that no other mobile game has really grabbed me. Just wouldn’t want to see anyone put off trying it at all.

    • Chum Joely says:

      Clearly the controls are less natural in the browser version than they would be on a phone with an accelerometer that lets you actually physically tilt the screen– and indeed, they take some getting used to in the browser. But the gameplay definitely seems to have potential after just a few levels (so, 5-7 minutes of play). I’ll check this out some more when I’m not at work.

    • blue_lander says:

      I approve of the speccy-esque graphics.

  6. Justin Leeper says:

    Ya know what this sounds like? Locoroco, an under-appreciated PSP game. And if I Am Level has some of the Metroid’iness that Identity Crisis mentions, then I’m pretty excited to play it.