Split! Review

Split! has personality

Normally I begin things with some sort of flaky lead-in loosely related to some aspect of the game I’m reviewing (there goes my biggest writing secret). But this time I’m not going to bother with all that, I’ll just get straight to the point and approach this review from a different angle: Spilt! has the best soundtrack I’ve heard in an iOS game this year.

It’s a techno/house/electronic slash, slash, slash mash up which reminds me of the sort of mad beats I used to get off my head to in house parties in the 90′s. I hope my Mum isn’t reading this, she thought I was volunteering at the 24 hour Sanctuary for stray kittens.

Anyway, it’s fantastic and certainly warrants an immediate mention. I could happily bang my head to it all day without actually playing the game. Just listen to the track that plays when you complete a level. Wicked.

As for the rest of the title, it’s a top-down puzzler with a little shooting blended in. You play as two characters – Red and Blue, who have to work together to escape a maximum security prison armed with only a gun and a knife each.

The prison is guarded by…er, guards – sorry, couldn’t think of another word there – and constructed of two main elements – green blocks which act as cover for gun battles, and brown walls which can be hidden behind. As the guards patrol the unit, you must guide Red and Blue through each level, eliminating each guard before moving on.

You control Red and Blue by tracing their path across the level one at a time. They tend to take the exact path you trace rather than the most direct route, meaning that trouble can arise if your fingers go walkabouts. Having said that, you can reroute the path at any point if you’re quick enough to realise you’ve messed up.

When any one of them encounter a guard across the green boxes, an automatic gunfight takes place.  Because of the way they play out, you could sit there all day and nobody would get hurt. Red or Blue shoot, the guard ducks, reloads, then shoots back. Rewind and repeat. It’s like that scene in the Naked Gun movies where Drebin and a bad guy are shooting at each other from behind cover only two feet apart.

But gunplay isn’t the point. While your character is distracting the guard by throwing hot lead at his face, you can trace a path for your other dude to sneak up behind him and either shoot him from range, or shank him with his blade, thus being the first person ever to successfully bring a knife to a gun fight. When the levels get difficult by adding mazy layouts, handfuls of enemies patrolling in different patterns and switches that open and close doors, you’ve got to work hard to figure out the optimal approach as quickly as possible.

Graphics are simple and sharp in an 8-bit stylee, but seeing as the levels are all made up of the same green and brown boxes, tend to get boring quickly. It feels like a missed opportunity for some variation in design. The uncomplicated nature of the visuals also makes me wonder why you can only play this game on devices with a Retina display, although an update is apparently in the works to remedy that.

I also wish there was a way multiplayer could’ve been included, as the game which is already a blast, could be a fully charged nitroglycerin explosion with two people on two iDevices working out strategy on the fly. Although it does promise that new features are coming soon, so let’s hope.

Overall though it’s enjoyable, addictive, and well designed with a central concept which will keep you wanting to beat the next level. The art direction and that soundtrack also bring an edgy feel to the whole act, like it was created by a bunch of indie developers with wispy facial hair locked in a shed smoking pot. I’m not too sure what I’m talking about there.

Pardon me if I mention the music one more time.  Apparently it’s produced exclusively by a dude named Syko G. So to him I give a ‘Big Up’ and a ‘Brrap, brrap’ or something like that, and to the rest of the Touchy Interactive team, I doff my cap in sincere admiration.


Follow Kevin on Twitter @dreagleg. Big up.

Split! is available now for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch for £0.69. Get it now on the Split! - Touchy Interactive

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