Michael Brough's iOS action arcade game Helix is best described as Loop by way of Hotline Miami's brutal one-hit KO gameplay and all those really weird artsy sci-fi movies from the 70s. It may also be a conspiracy to get me to destroy my iPad in the most violent way possible, I haven't decided. In it, you control a flying... amoeba-looking thing whose only defense against the creatures who come after you is to encircle them, which destroys them, although some enemies need to be circled more than once, or in specific ways. Just put your finger on the screen, and the creature will follow your motions, though it won't stay "attached" to your fingertip. While you can encircle more than one enemy at once, backing off as you will often find yourself doing to avoid other foes will cause the line of your snare to "rewind" as it follows your movements. Since a single hit will end the game, it's all about seeing how long you can last, and in that regard Helix is a formidable challenge indeed.
Helix's bizarre electro-organic aesthetic and catchy, original soundtrack makes it one of the most memorable arcade games I've played in a while, and soothes the sting of having to repeatedly start the game over and over and over. Make no mistake, this game is hard even on the default game mode, and while the new enemy types add a lot of welcome variety, you'll also sort of dread them. Each type typically has its own set of requirements and behaviours, and trying to keep track of everything while you're swinging wildly around the screen (hopefully) avoiding instant death means this is about as far from relaxing as you can get. While a lot of arcade games are difficult, however, Helix is also smart, with what feels like an evolving playing field full of unique obstacles. Enemies that move differently, or split apart, all of it happens in such a ways as to keep you on your toes, but also engaged rather than succumbing to repetition. The movement of your, uh, amoeba itself does feel overly zippy at times, especially since it ranges out from where your finger touches rather than staying beneath it, and it forces you to play more slowly than the action might seem geared to. Still, Helix's clever, evolving arcade gameplay makes it addicting like few others, as well as eye-and-ear catching to boot, and if you want even more of a challenge, the extra game modes will satisfy and enrage you in all the right ways.