Simple, but effective, with an inspired use of mobile game mechanics
Size: 107 MB
Developer: RAC7 Games
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Update! Games often don’t see much in the way of updates following their initial launch, but Splitter Critters may well be the exception.
So what’s new? Shortly after its launch and its win of an Apple Design Award, the developers added exclusive Augmented Reality levels. It’s not easy to explain but it essentially puts the level in a box, which can be placed through AR on a table, or even hung up. You can then use your device to walk around and look at the level from different angles, which for a game like this offers a new take on tactics. The last major update came towards the end of 2017 where new critters and 18 new levels were added. Since then it’s gone a bit quiet, but if you’ve never played it there’s plenty there for you to get stuck into.
Revised rating: A little bump. ★★★★½
Our original review, written in February 2017, is presented in its entirety below.
Sometimes it feels like the App Store is full of clones and copies, and while that’s certainly true, for a game to really stand out, it has to reinvent its own genre. Splitter Critters is a brand new puzzle game that does just that. Taking retro influence, it updates them for the mobile genre.
The game has a simple premise. You play a series of levels across a number of colorful worlds, each inhabited by cute-tastic aliens who are simply trying to escape via a spaceship. There are two types of obstacles in their way; landscapes – rocks, ledges, oceans – and other, bigger, more aggressive critters.
It’s all fairly familiar so far, but this is where the intriguing game mechanic really sets in. To solve each puzzle level, you have to slice and drag the landscape. Need to cross an ocean? Slice horizontally, and move the ledge the aliens are on until it’s over the ocean. That way they safely drop onto the next ledge.
The influence can be clearly tracked back to early PC game Lemmings. The critters are constantly on the move, and you have little control over their movements, and only on the environment around them. While those games may have included building various objects or blowing up the landscape to help save them from falling off the edge, Splitter Critters has been simplified for the touch-screen medium. This also makes it hugely accessible.
The early levels in particular are nice and simple and can usually be solved by one or two swipes. But as it progresses you will have to deal with an increasing number of little alien blobs, more dangerous critters, and longer levels.
In terms of difficulty, the game ramps up as you’d expect, but it’s easy to undo your moves. If your swipe doesn’t have any discernible impact, or you make more than your allotted amount, simply go back. However, some puzzles will take a long, long time to get right. Interestingly, the aliens and critters don’t revert, so sometimes undo-ing will actually help move them along or solve the puzzle as much as a swipe would.
All in, Splitter Critters is a hugely enjoyable game. There’s 42 levels, which isn’t a huge number considering it costs $3, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s very easy to jump in, so if you’re the type to just dip in and out of iPhone games, you’ll get a decent amount of gameplay from it. Furthermore, the developer says it plans to add more levels. Add in iCloud sync so you can start from where you left off across devices, plus no ads or IAPs at all, and it all comes together as a very worthwhile purchase.