Developer: Kiz Studios
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 2.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

IMG_0453[1]Chuck the Muck almost feels too good for mobile. It’s so well-produced and full of great ideas that its failings feel like the limitations of the platform itself. Still, no one should let that stop them from trying out this gem.

While trying to escape an oppressive mining company, players discover Chuck, an orange blob with a taste for the nearby red crystals. This is told through Chuck the Muck’s impressive, full-motion, animated cutscenes that nicely segue into crisp, colorful, cartoony 3D environments. The style and humor is reminiscent of Twisted Pixel’s creations like The Maw or Ms. ‘Splosion Man. The game is so beautiful and detailed that part of the fun comes from seeing how distinct each level can look while listening to jaunty trumpet music.

However, most of the fun comes from the physics-based, puzzle-platforming gameplay. Chuck the Muck is about using muck to propel one’s character from one end of the screen to the exit. Sometimes that means creating sticky slingshots for launching into key places. Other times one must take advantage of moveable muck cannons to blast past gaps or towards buttons. Players also better watch out for robot sentries that move across platforms as well as in and out of the foreground. Later levels start combining mechanics in clever, satisfying ways and the promise of more levels may mean new tricks too. Players can spend real or in-game money on costumes and non-essential power-ups, like a jump-boosting can of beans, and using new skills in old areas can be fun. However, having to buy these permanent, useful abilities is strange in its own right in such an otherwise simple game.

It’s a high-quality experience overall but it sometimes feels like quantity is what had to go. The twenty levels go by quickly, even when trying to collect all three red gems and unlock bonus levels. While the controls occasionally feel sloppy, the core physics mechanics are so tight players will wish levels were longer and more elaborate. Perhaps on another device they might have been and maybe then the game wouldn’t crash as often either. 

Still, as it is now, Chuck the Muck is a fantastic game made even better by its $0.00 price tag. It’s great having no excuse to not get something great. 


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