Review: Split!

Split

Split! is a strategy puzzle game for iOS devices that lets you control two ping-ball headed gunmen trying to clear out various maze-like encounters while finding cover and killing enemies before they kill you. Each room has various walls and barricades which offer cover from enemies placed throughout who begin shooting the moment your red and blue mercs are spotted. Your mercs and the enemies take turns shooting volleys back and forth until you can position one of your soldiers into a spot on the map that offers a clean shot while the enemies are either actively engaged on your other team member or are ducking behind cover to avoid being shot.

Taking cover becomes a game of cat and mouse as enemies shooting at you will take cover to reload while your mercs fire back. In the early stages of the game, the maps are laid out with obvious tactical vantage points which allow one merc to use cover yet become the focal point of the enemies, while your other merc flanks from another path and takes out the oblivious enemies. The theory is sound, but unfortunately the execution is a little bit clunky because you have to touch and then drag a specific path for a merc to take. This may not be as much of an issue on an iPad, but on the smaller iPhone screen, larger fingers can cause a disadvantage as part of the screen is blocked by your own hand.

In addition to potentially blocking your own view from the action, another disadvantage is in the fact that both sides die in one shot. Trying to maneuver a merc on the screen while not being able to see if the path being traced is the perfect line only to get picked off in a single shot resulted in many levels needing to be restarted multiple times during my sessions with the game.

While the levels don’t take an especially long time to load, the fact that I had trouble playing through so many levels (even the easy ones) leaves me feeling that the game and the premise might be better suited on another platform or at least a device with a larger screen. Being able to trace out a path using the rear touch pad on a Vita would help immensely as it would allow the screen to be viewed at all times.

Another slight frustration with the game is the fact that the active game field takes place in areas that are beyond the screen’s field of view. Swiping left, right, up or down will allow for viewing the rest of the screen and all moving enemies (if they are patrolling a particular pathway). The only way to see the entire field of battle is to pinch the screen which zooms the view out and pauses all enemy movements. Trying to plan out a route based on paused enemies led to several more instant deaths as enemies would appear in different areas from where they were when I had the screen zoomed out.

On each level there are three star crates and these crates offer bonus points to boost the overall score. Unfortunately chasing after these crates is too tedious. Often times I’d find the third create only after I’d killed the last enemy on the level. Killing the last enemy ends the level immediately, at which point there is no way of collecting that last crate. Collecting crates may be an added challenge to the game, but the overall gameplay just is not engaging enough to warrant replaying levels to try find them all.

I admire any development team that has obviously put so much work into developing an art style, building rule sets for gameplay, and actually putting it all together in a complete package. But unfortunately I think Split! is a game better suited for a different platform or a different input method. With all of the games that are available in the App Store currently, Split! is one title that is competent, but even at $1, easily forgotten.

SkipIt

Pros:
+ Interesting tactical strategy mechanic

Cons:
- Trial and error gameplay becomes frustrating
- Fingers/input block the game space whenever moving a character
- Load times seem long because the re-load screen is present far too often

Game Info:
Platform: iOS
Publisher: Touchy Interactive
Developer: Touchy Interactive
Release Date: 6/15/2012
Genre: Strategy/Puzzle/Action
Age Rating: 9+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.