If you have ever played Lemmings you know what to expect from Spirits in terms of gameplay. Guide creatures without own willpower, and lacking even basic survival instinct. Obstacles lie in the way from spawn point to the goal. No matter if these obstacles are blatantly hazardous such as falling down on spikes or walking into fiery pits the creatures you indirectly help march on. In the original Lemmings I remember myself torturing these stupid creatures far more than actually completing levels. In Spirits on the other hand the setting, and the innocent look of the characters make me actually care about guiding them securely. Now this is both a really good thing for the game, as it makes me want to progress. It is also rather negative, as the fun of killing them isn’t there as it was in Lemmings.
Spirits spawn from a point in the level, and you have to guide a set number of them to the swirly goal. On the way there are usually a number of flowers to pick up. Your success is based on the number of Spirits saved, and the number of flowers gathered. Completing the 40 levels is challenging in itself, but getting all the flowers takes some real thinking.
This is a game of planning, and executing plans with precision. The tools you have at your disposal are the Spirits themselves. They can transform into four different functions. Once transformed that Spirit is lost, and doesn’t count in your score. To score big you have to be conservative with the amount of Spirits used. To transform a Spirit simply touch it, and choose one of the available forms. The touch controls work really well.
The gameplay is both hectic, and slightly relaxing at the same time. The presentation is soothing, and the accompanying music helps inducing an almost meditative state. This is in stark contrast to some moments in the game where you have to place a Spirit in the correct spot just moments before the next one wanders out straight onto death.
The lucid dreamlike graphics with all the movement of elements is some of the best found in a puzzler for the iPhone. The Spirits are well animated as well, and you can tell quite a lot from looking at their heads how the wind is blowing.
Spirits is an excellent iPhone game that is perfect when on the go, or if you want to sit down and concentrate for hours. It lacks the sadistic fun some of us had with the inspirational Lemmings, and instead it gives us cute characters easy to bond with. The game is also available in an iPad version, and given the choice the larger screen estate is really beneficial to the gameplay. No matter which device you prefer Spirits is an excellent game.