Developer: Cipher Prime
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

There’s precious little else out there that’s anything like Splice. It’s a stunningly artistic yet relatively simple looking puzzle game. One that sets out to challenge you as much as past indie delight SpaceChem while demonstrating its beauty along the way. It also manages to be a rare PC/Mac conversion that feels as if it was always meant to be on the iPad.

The idea is distinctly scientific. Players must rearrange a number of cells within a level (or strand, as the game likes to call them) in order to form a target structure. A limited number of moves are available, encouraging plenty of experimentation and determining just how everything works. At first, none of it really makes any sense. Trial and error will be a commonly used technique and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. Persevere though and it begins to make sense. The cells react in certain ways to each other with mutation possible, so it’s important to be able to visualize appropriately. Essentially, it’s just how one imagines a petri dish would be with a series of cells contained within.

Early puzzles are simple, even if they don’t always make sense. It’s later stages when advanced techniques emerge and the presence of mutation cells and deletion cells that things get altogether more challenging. Be warned: it’s not for the faint hearted. Unlike many other puzzle games available for iOS, there’s no skip button so it’s possible to get thoroughly stuck on a particular level. The lack of extensive help can accentuate matters.

Splice is still glorious, however. Keep at it and things gradually begin to make sense. Most of all, it’s beautiful. The art style is simple yet fits into the tone perfectly, with the touch based controls ensuring the game feels wonderfully interactive. Splice really does feel as if it’s been made for the iPad rather than converted. The soothing soundtrack helps matters, all the more.

Due to the level of difficulty and its minimalist theme, Splice is going to be a bit of an acquired taste. Some will prefer more handholding and more character. For those who love to experiment, however, this is the game to gravitate towards. It’s a purist’s idea of heaven.

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