Touchy Interactive see Split! as an evolutionary title set to raise the bar for future “touch-based tactical puzzle games”. What they push in creativity they sadly (and simultaneously) lack in overall coherence – but that’s not to say their modestly priced debut title (available on iPhone/iPad for £0.59/£1.29) isn’t worth checking out for fans of gaming on the move.
The game adopts a simplistic approach to a genre that’s been tapped into more times this console generation than Rupert Murdoch’s external hard drive, but never quite like this. You play as two convicts (who for the purpose of this review I have named Red and Blue, although their names aren’t distinctly clear) who are attempting to escape a high-security prison with just a handful of bullets and a whopping knife that would make even Crocodile Dundee proud to know ya’. You work on your own (but sort of as a team) as you control the two criminals from a top-down Birdseye perspective, drawing paths for each character as they progress through the maze-like levels. The controls are easy peasy thanks to a simplistic swipe interface and the way Touchy have approached the task of zooming in and out of the map is respectful of how the iPhone handles photos and books, with a two-finger prod and pull technique.
There’s a burgeoning array of divergent floors and challenges to complete throughout the experience, and due to the nature of ramping up the difficulty as you progress you’ll find there’s definitely plenty of bang for your buck with this one. The way the game ultimately pans out, however, is a little too repetitive for my liking – as you’ll soon find it’s just a case of positioning one character behind a wall to distract a guard while the other comes up the rear (ehem) to shoot our beloved Police Force heroes straight in the back. Due to this issue, I actually found Split! to not be as addictive and engrossing as I’d anticipated it would be. It’s not a game I found myself regularly wanting to back to and progress further through, but I can appreciate that there’s definitely a large chunk of the iPhone demographic who will have one hell of a blast with this title.
There’s a lack of multiplayer, too, which is a bit of a missed trick for the debut indie team – but that’s definitely remedied in part by the games’ exclusive trance-y techno-y style soundtrack created by pioneering DJ Producer Syko-G. It blends a great mixture of contemporary dub sounds with catchy melodies, ensuring that Split! will be bobbing around your head all day in one way or another. In the end, whatever you’re looking for in Split! you’ll probably find in some capacity. It’s a game brimming with entertaining content, style and simplicity – but when the novelty wears thin there’s only a few things you may find yourself coming back for.
I’d say it’s definitely one for the niche top-down market or indeed for the casual gamer and for under 60p on your phone you have to hold your hands up prison-style and say that’s clearly a steal. Now enough with all the crime puns…