These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.
Many console and computer games can work well on iPhone and iPad with the right kinds of modifications, or with virtual buttons atop the action, but it’s always refreshing to play something original that only really feels at home on a touch device. Splitter Critters is definitely one of those games, and it rejiggers the puzzle-platform genre by changing the way you interact with the world.
Rather than directly control a character to guide it to the exit in each stage, you’ll alter the world—and you’ll do that by slicing a giant gash into it. After swiping in your split, you can shift either side of the world so that formerly separate pathways are now one, or so that obstacles that once blocked your creatures are no longer a threat. By chopping up the world, you can effectively cut and paste together a new layout that gets your little aliens to their escape ship.
It sounds simple, but while the mechanics are easy to learn, you’ll have to contend with splitting limits, trying to figure out the best cutting angles, and trying not to accidentally fry your character(s) or smash up the ship in the process. And the game gradually shifts and evolves over time, presenting new brain-teasing challenges to overcome.
Ready to solve your way through these worlds with some smart swipes? Here’s why Splitter Critters is such an intriguing new iOS pick.
It’s a clever mechanic: We’ve all hopped over chasms, jumped atop the heads of foes, or landed on switches to get to the end of a side-scrolling action level, but Splitter Critters does something very different. Finishing a level here means finding the best places in each stage to cut the world in two, and then rearranging the pieces to provide safe passage ahead.
Getting to the UFO at the end often requires multiple cuts in the world, and may demand some precise timing as you figure out how to dodge enemies, lasers, and other dangers in each environment. You’ll have different types of aliens to oversee, as well, which can change your solution strategy in a stage, and there also seem to be multiple ways to finish each puzzle. It’s heavy on trial-and-error experimentation, and the big undo button means that kind of approach comes with minimal frustration to match.
The game constantly evolves: Along with the varying alien types—some timid, others able to sprint right through enemies—are different types of challenges that emerge across the various level sets. After a couple of basic land-based areas, you’ll then have to contend with water as you guide critters underwater and even find creative ways to create a dry surface for your UFO. And beyond that is a world dominated by machines, in which you’ll need to maneuver across moving platforms.
Splitter Critters really seems to hit its stride in the last and largest of the worlds, which throws in switches that must be depressed, as well as laser beams that must be guided to a receptacle by cutting out a direct pathway through a level. It reminds me of the mind-bending puzzles of Portal, albeit on a smaller scale—and while not immensely difficult, it is a step up from the rest of the game and shows what’s really possible here.
There’s more to come: And that’s a great sign, since developer RAC7 Games—the team behind the wonderfully innovative (and eerie) Dark Echo—has promised more free level updates ahead. Right now, Splitter Critters is fairly compact, and you can probably whip through the few dozen levels in the span of a couple hours, but it’s all really smart and super-polished stuff so far. And it’s charming too, with expressive cartoon-like graphics and really pleasing tunes to match.
Splitter Critters is indeed pretty short and sweet right now, but it reminds me a lot of last year’s fantastic Chameleon Run in that respect. It was another clever, polished premium game that made a strong impression with a relatively small amount of content, and was eventually expanded out with even more great levels. And much like that game, Splitter Critters is well worth your time and money right away.