The App Store isn’t short of puzzle games. It’s not even low on puzzle games that use touch based controls in an effective way. That doesn’t stop Splitter Critters feeling like a particularly shining light within the genre, though. In more ways than one, it’s a cut above the rest, with its imaginative level design being its biggest highlight.
Your mission is to guide some cute little critters safely back to their spaceship. It sounds almost Lemmings-esque, but the means in which you do this is very different from what you’ve seen before. You have to split up each level, and indeed the world, with your finger. A careful swipe here or there splits things into two. You then drag the split area around, recreating a safe platform or path for the critters to negotiate. It’s a simple way of doing things, but it opens up a wealth of possibilities.
Early on, you’re simply dealing with forest areas. Oftentimes, a simple singular swipe is all that’s needed before you drag a platform over and provide support for the cuddly critters. Soon enough, enemies emerge and you have to plot things more carefully in a bid to keep your critters safe. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Later stages require you to manipulate watery scenes, allowing the blue critters to survive deep oceans. Lava can also play a valuable and destructive role in your path to freedom. Reach the much later stages of the game and you’re also bouncing lasers around or having your guys stumble over switches to activate things.
Fortunately, Splitter Critters eases you in. This is helped by its keenly designed mechanics. Besides the fact that swiping a split in the world is very simple, it also opens up a lot of options. You’re tasked with only a certain number of swipes, but there’s always a back button to retreat a move or two. The back button itself has more going for it than you’d expect too, as it simply undoes the swipe. It doesn’t undo the damage already inflicted by said swipe, and once you come to grips with this realization, the world becomes a very different place. You’re able to accomplish a lot more than you’d originally anticipated. That’s how stages with lasers and other significant perils don’t seem quite so scary after all.
That’s not to say that there aren’t moments where you’ll be scratching your head. Splitter Critters does turn quite fiendish after a while, but it still manages to also feel quite relaxing. There’s no score to keep an eye on or a timer either. Instead, you can simply take your time figuring things out. The critters might be at risk at times, but mostly you can plan ahead and not stress too much. There’s also that sense that Splitter Critters provides multiple solutions to its puzzles, rather than expecting you to stick to a more rigid way of doing things.
Throw in some delightful visuals and an appealing soundtrack, and Splitter Critters rarely puts a foot wrong. It’s the kind of indie puzzle delight that should stick in your memory for a while to come. It’ll easily remind you of just what can be accomplished when a developer pays attention to what works so well on a mobile format. The only thing you’ll be wishing for is the addition of more levels.