Developer: Spaces of Play
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device reviewed on: iPad
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Spirits for iPad can invoke a strong sense of nostalgia; it’s a testament to how successful the Lemmings series of games was because you can’t help but draw a comparison between the two. Yet Spirits is more delicate, more poignant than that oft-quoted game and whilst it has its failings too, it is definitely one of those that you just have to experience.
In this game, the Spirits that are under your command are not only impervious to fall damage, because they float on wind currents, but are also much easier to lose to those same wind currents especially as many of the environments are littered with spike traps. The wind is indicated by elegant particle swarms that gush and dance across the area and to navigate it you have to make use of four abilities; a wind blocking fuzz ball, a wind emitting cloud, a burrow ability that allows you to travel underground and a bridge ability that allows you to reach higher places. Not all of these abilities are available on every level.
Making use of these abilities, ultimately, sacrifices those Spirits for the greater good, but as well as attempting to rescue all of the Spirits possible you should also be trying to “activate” light emitting plants too—either by walking over them or tapping a spirit whilst in mid-flight to release a small ball of energy. This secondary objective is often more difficult to get but it isn’t impossible.
Spirits for iPad looks terrific, thanks to the stark contrast between painterly background graphics and the bleak, at times menacing foreground. The orchestral soundtrack, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same appeal; pairing Spirits with a good ambient or minimal techno artist (think Future Sound of London, Proem, Trentemøller or Stendeck) seemed like a much better listen, although many of the pieces weren’t bad in their own right. Happily, you can access three levels at the same time so getting stuck isn’t a big deal.
Some of the more demanding levels require precise, nimble actions so the game can suffer from the same flaws that plague Lemmings games, such as finding trouble selecting the right Spirit at the right time and performing the required action without letting another fall to their doom. Spirits tend to get bunched up which is more of a failing of level design than anything else, and sometimes the giant fuzz balls can get stuck in a wall before they are fully swelled up. It’s disappointing that there’s no fast forward button to use once you’ve lead the first Spirit to the exit vortex, so you just have to be patient.
Even though you can tell where Spirits for iPad got its inspiration from, there’s no denying that it is an inspiring product in its own right. Its delicacy, intricacy, difficulty and artistic flair is what sets it apart from the rest of the clones and should definitely be on your list of iPad titles to buy.