The first line you see when you start up Oh, Sheep! is, “On a quiet farmland, Evil Dr. Friedrich is having an evil plan,” an almost-sentence emblematic of the game in general. It plays rather like a real-time Star Wars: Pit Droids with a path-drawing control scheme like that of Flight Control. Not a bad premise for a game, but the execution adds unnecessary pain with a variety of missteps.
The plot of the game, involving extraterrestrial sheep, provides but the thinnest excuse for the game’s generically cute visuals and sound. They’re effective enough without bringing any particular personality to the experience. Oddly, even the review code I was given only unlocked the free levels, but in those levels the degree of difficulty was unusually low, and rose very gradually. This does leave the game relatively well-suited to be an introductory puzzler for younger or very casual gamers who might be attracted by cute sheep; my four-year-old is quite taken with the game. The low difficulty helps offset occasional control problems, with paths failing to appear on occasion.
As a result of the low-pressure gameplay and innocuous atmosphere, it’s never really an unpleasant game to play. The frustrations arise everywhere else. You can pay to unlock the full game, but there are also coins, basic gems, colored gems, red seals, and free spins at the virtual roulette wheel, all of which you acquire in different ways and many of which you can exchange for each other or purchase with real money.
It’s a bewildering array of monetization schemes which, considering the natural audience for the game, seems designed to bamboozle. Various poor user interface choices mar the experience of getting to the gameplay, as well. The awful story is related every time the app starts, the level selection menu displays a function-free left arrow, the menu which pops up when the game is paused does not offer any option to return to the game (instead, you must use the “back” arrow in the lower right if you want to keep playing), and on and on.
Except for its attempts to treat players like suckers, Oh, Sheep! is a good game for people who aren’t likely to read reviews. If you’re sophisticated and discriminating enough to be reading this, though, pass on it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.