Back when the Humble Bundle for Android 4 launched about a month ago, one game that ate up basically all of my playtime from that bundle was Splice. I had already set my sights on it after seeing it launch on “the other” mobile platform, and so digging into it after seeing it on the Humble Bundle was only a given. Fair enough, I was looking forward to it, but how did I find it?
It’s hard to really describe what Splice is. The game’s official description calls it an “experimental and artistic puzzler”. Suffice to say, this is something different, and offers a wholly unique experience compared to other puzzlers out there. I remember launching the game for the first time and was left scratching my head as I figured out how to navigate through the menus. After a good few minutes doing just that, I spent a lot more time getting to grips with how the game played.
The game, which is split into two portions – the tutorial which spans 7 worlds and the expert mode which spans 4 worlds (this is where the real challenge lies!) – requires you to sort of reverse-engineer cells into their outlined positions. Each of these worlds consist of 7 strands (or rather levels), and you have got to complete each strand in a given number of splices (turns).
To be really honest, I went past the first couple of worlds pretty easily, but at the same time, I didn’t manage to grasp the concept of the game. I just tapped here and there and the next thing I knew I completed the strand. So yeah, it took me about 4 worlds to fully master the base principle of the game. This may be both a positive and negative of the game – negative because things aren’t very clear; positive because the game lets you learn at your own pace and keeps you independent.
Splice has got one main rule, which is each cell can have only one or two children. You go around rearranging the cells by dragging them and placing them in an available position. This seemed hard to grasp at the start because you have to be precise when rearranging the cells. Also, there are special cells that can mutate, either by doubling, extending or removing all the cells below it. Being able to see how the cells mutate is quintessential to solving each strand. If you get to complete in fewer splices than required, you get rated as “Angelic” (though I noticed sometimes you use the maximum number of splices yet you still get an Angelic rating).
Where this game really delivers is in the audio-visual category. Each world has a different color and sound theme, and it delivers a calming, meditative effect. Even if you find yourself not understanding the way the game works, or simply finding the puzzles touch, there will be a small voice in you telling to play the game just so you can be absorbed in the colorful microbial world that is accompanied by soothing piano tunes.
The game is not without its quirks though. I find the puzzles to lack balance – I can solve some of them in just one try, while others could take me tens of tries that I simply give up and come back another day hoping I have better luck. Additionally, as you approach expert mode, the levels because a painful exercise of trial and error. The silver lining here is that once you get past the extended tutorial levels, you don’t have to complete a level to move on – they are all unlocked so if you get stuck, you could just skip it and go to the next one.
Splice is a game that would not cater to everyone’s taste buds. But if you’re in for something different, and long for a game that can help you relieve your stress after a long day, then Splice may just be the thing for you. The developers should get a pat on the back for doing something radical, even if it means the puzzles in the latter stages of the game seem difficult to solve. All in all, I enjoyed Splice and will probably still pick it up every now and again to complete all the levels (or strands, as I should say). For $2.99 off Google Play, I’d say this is good value for your money if you like the concept.
Overall rating: 4/5