Though not a direct tie-in with the recent motion picture, Uncanny X-Men: Days of Past follows a similar plot which originates from the 1981 comic book run. The mobile and tablet game kicks off with a cataclysmic event in which the mutant-hunting Sentinels have wiped out all but a few lingering superhumans.
On the run and down to their last reserves, a small team of X-Men still remain, scouring a desolate United States. Their search brings them to the Xavier mansion where Kitty Pryde, otherwise known as Shadowcat, watches as both Colossus and Wolverine are eradicated by their sentinel pursuers. Moments from death, she taps into Xavier’s Cerebro, catapulting herself back into the past. From there, it’s up to her to warn the X-Men of what’s to come.
The game does a good job in setting the scene, its design influenced by the 80s comics from which its story arc is sourced. It’s a shame, however, that developer GlitchSoft doesn’t go further than the baseline. Despite having the golden opportunity to deliver some raw Marvel fan service, it takes the easy option with a few brief dialogue boxes here and there used to illustrate the game’s narrative.
Gameplay is also kept fairly basic, with Uncanny X-Men opting for a traditional 2D platformer template. It doesn’t have the same appeal as the X-Men arcade game though, straddling the line between 16-bit and flash games. The result is an unappetising to the least, with characters sporting a certain disjointed look.
During play, you will alternate between bounding across platforms and whaling on incoming enemies. The controls are mapped to an on-screen joystick and two buttons: one for jumping and the other for attacks. Thankfully there is a bit of variety when it comes to combat. Instead of using the same attack over and over, players can use points to unlock other moves and abilities.
With that said, each hero’s power set is comparable, often consisting of one dash attack, one charge attack, and one ground pound. There may be different animations for each yet the effect is still the same. More disappointing is how Uncanny X-Men fails to capitalise on its pool of potential superpowers. Wolverine doesn’t heal over time, Colossus isn’t a bullet sponge and, more noticeably, Kitty Pryde seems to forget her phasing powers altogether.
When all the pieces come together, Uncanny X-Men isn’t a bad game. It may appear rough around the edges and gameplay can grind from time to time. However, with stages clocking in at around five to ten minutes, it’s well-suited for short bursts of play. On top of that, the experience system and prospect of unlocking new powers and characters is alluring to say the least.
Still, the question of price remains. The App Store is teeming with some amazing free-to-play games whereas Uncanny X-Men is a full £1.99. It may be chip money to some but for others even a couple of quid is a commitment. If sat on the fence, perhaps the fact it doesn’t have micro-transactions could sway you but, even then, you’re mostly paying for the Marvel nametag.