Puzzle games based on physics are becoming more and more common in the download arena. Developer SpikySnail is not about to miss out on the craze, as is evident with their latest XBLA title, The Splatters. Now, some of you might be confusing this with Puddle, which we reviewed a while back, but I promise you, this is an entirely different liquid-based puzzle game. The Splatters focuses more on spraying your liquid in unique ways to detonate bombs. Basically you make a huge mess and attempt to set off explosives. Sounds like a blast right?
The premise is simple. You sling around glops of paint and attempt to coat bombs with your colorful goodness. Doing so causes them to explode. It sounds simple enough, right? The catch is that you can only detonate bombs of your color, so in later levels you will be forced to navigate areas without spilling your blue goo on the red bombs and so on.
Obstacles will play a role, as will powers like being able to redirect your spillage. Thorns, which can destroy your glob, can spread the love all over the place. It is hard to keep double entendre out of this review, so please bear with me. The collection of power-ups is handy, changing up the dynamics in interesting ways. Some allow you to flip momentum in the entire level, while others send your gloop shooting across the gap like a rocket. All of the pieces are here to make things interesting, but for some reason the game never really captured my attention for more than a few minutes at a time.
Levels are broken down into bite-sized challenges that are easily accessible and simple enough to replay for better scores. It is this kind if accessibility that can make or break games like this. In addition to the numerous challenges that introduce you to each mechanic, there is also a spectator mode called Splatter TV. Think of this as like the YouTube of Splatters skills. You can view replays of levels in order to show you how other players obtained those ridiculously high scores. It is a cool community addition to the game, and one that will certainly benefit the longer the game is out.
While I appreciated what the game brought to the table, it simply never had me screaming ’just one more level.’ I usually adore physics-based puzzle games, but nothing about The Splatters really felt special. I am not exactly sure why this is. The game is solid, and the mechanics are easy to comprehend, but I just never felt the drive to go back to better a score or master a technique. It is definitely nothing against the game itself, as I said it is mechanically sound; it just didn’t rope me in like I had hoped.
In terms of presentation, the game is fantastic. I love the bright colors and streamlined menu system. As I mentioned, it is so easy to move from challenge to challenge, or simply replay a level to improve a score. You forget how imperative design like this is until it is missing. As far as the actual visuals, the game looks good. Your paint globs explode in realistic fashion and the bright palette really keeps it from feeling bland on any account. The physics model is wonderfully accurate, and overall, the game just feels as happy as it looks.
The Splatters is a solid game that simply didn’t capture my attention. That doesn’t mean it won’t capture yours. I highly recommend checking out the demo and deciding if this is your type of puzzle game. On a strictly functional level, the game does everything right, and it does it well. It is hard to fault a game that has nothing structurally nothing wrong, but to me, The Splatters just lacked that magic to make it my next addiction.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.