App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
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A warning rings out across the fjords. Longships have been spotted and the viking horde bears down on an tiny coastal settlement. The savage Norsemen haven’t come to engage in their traditional terrorizing of the populace or razing of villages - no, this time around they have a far more specific (and sinister) agenda: they’re after the sheep!
Get The Flock Out casts the player as a nameless shepherd, guiding Hemp, her obedient sheepdog, in rounding up the errant flock and leading them all to safety. Over six chapters and 36 levels Hemp will direct the sheep through increasingly complex layouts of gates, holding pens, bridges, and eventually even cannons and catapults, all while avoiding hazardous quicksand pits and distracting fields of tasty clover.
Interfacing with Hemp is extremely simple, requiring the player only to touch and drag out a trail for him to follow. Scrolling around is accomplished with simple swipes and a pinch zoom pauses, shifting to an overhead view of the entire stage. In the early levels, sheep are surrounded with a large dotted circle denoting how close Hemp can approach before they begin moving away from him, with their trajectory indicated by a directional arrow. After progressing through the first few stages, these guides grow fainter, eventually disappearing altogether.
However, getting these bleating, vacant wool factories to actually go where they’re needed is a less simple prospect. Developers Wooji Juice tout the sheep as exhibiting AS (Artificial Stupidity) rather than AI (Artificial Intelligence), and the frustration conjured over something as relatively simple as moving the flock from one location to another leaves me agreeing with this terminology.
Part of what hampered the controls for me was the lack of lateral space in portrait mode. Combined with the fairly wide flock awareness circles, this left me having to carefully micromanage strategic sheep maneuvers with tiny movements that rendered time bonuses almost impossible to get after the first couple of chapters. I reviewed Flock on iPhone and from the look of the iPad screenshots that device's increased screen real estate might rectify this problem, but I can’t speak from firsthand experience. Also, Hemp got stuck a few times in areas that looked as if there should have been enough room to maneuver, but a bit of finessing managed to extricate him before long. It’s also too easy to accidentally over-steer and guide the flock way out of position. Just some caveats to keep in mind.
Despite these flaws, Get The Flock Out will still provide a few hours of entertainment for gamers masochistic enough enjoy puzzling out various ways to fling obliviously obstinate sheep toward safety. Still, I’m left to wonder why the villagers wouldn't just use all these siege weapons they have lying about for sheep evacuation to fend off the vikings to begin with. Sounds like baa-d strategy to me.