We dig up a satisfying experience in our review of Chisel
Combining elements of Qix, Dig Dug and Super Mario Galaxy is no easy feat, yet that’s exactly what Nitrome’s latest game Chisel accomplishes with finesse. We take command of a drill-headed robot named Chiseller as he drills planets in half over and over again and love every minute of it.
Chisel is an action arcade puzzler that tasks players to shrink planets to a certain size. To do this, Chiseller will hop on his head and drill in a straight line from one side of the planet to another, taking out some of the mass and causing the two bisected pieces to come together. Players will do this over and over until the planet is tiny enough to progress to the next level.
The game wouldn’t be much of a challenge if all you had to do was cut a planet in half. Thankfully in typical Nitrome-fashion a healthy combination of brilliant level design and new gameplay twists throughout manage to keep players on their toes.
Enemies make up the bulk of the challenge here. Chiseller can only take damage three times before needing to restart a level, and a wide variety of enemies means there are some levels where such a restart is unavoidable. Every enemy has different properties, with their own set of strengths and weaknesses that players will need to work around. Spiky turtles walk around the outside of a planet, but can be taken out if Chiseller can hit them from underneath while drilling. Moles explore inside the planet and can’t be destroyed, but they can only go in a straight line making their path easy to predict. While we weren’t doing a headcount, there appeared to be about a dozen enemies in all – more than enough to keep things exciting across the game’s 30 levels.
The level design complements the challenge from the game’s many enemies perfectly. In some instances players will need to navigate safely between a planet filled with bombs. In others the speed at which the enemies can circumnavigate the planet matches how long it takes you to drill perfectly, meaning you’re always only moments away from taking damage. Some of the levels even have a whimsical design, taking the shape of fruit like an apple or banana.
Both the gameplay and design are sparkling with personality. And while the bisecting gameplay is a clear homage to Qix and the walk-around world feels right at home in Super Mario Galaxy, Chisel feels like a long lost entry in Namco’s Mr. Driller/Dig Dug/Star Trigon family. The personality, simple gameplay, and focus on quick fun feel right at home with Namco’s family of drillers. If you’re a fan of any of those games, Chisel is an absolute must-play.
Nitrome’s games range from the supremely challenging to the endearingly simple. Chisel falls somewhere nicely in between. With easy to learn gameplay that offers a good deal of challenge in the later levels, Chisel has drilled its way out of a planet and into our hearts. You’re guaranteed to find good, arcade-style fun here.