Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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Squids Wild West is the follow-up to the previous cephalopod-based strategy game, Squids. It’s essentially Angry Birds meets turn-based strategy in a top-down 2D world. Players fling squids about the map by pulling back on the squid, and launching them at enemies. Physics are very important, as enemies are hurt more when hit at higher velocities. Each squid has their own set of abilities: gunners can shoot, scouts can dash after launching, healers can heal their allies when they hit them, and troopers have a smash attack that hits all enemies in their area. Each team takes turns, until one team is left standing, or has their objective completed.
I must say that I found Squids Wild West to be comical and entertaining. The dialogue is playful, as a game about squids in the underwater wild west should be. The gameplay is simple enough to pick up on, and while the physics interactions does mean that chaos and entropy are big factors, it still does reward strategic thinking, and allowing the player to play the way they want.
The uninitiated need not worry about being lost if they didn’t check out the original: a rough outline of the story so far is given, and the gameplay elements are re-introduced. The helmet system works perfectly: they provide stat boosts along with cosmetic features, but the stat boosts can be applied permanently, meaning any helmet can be used, while still providing incentive to buy new helmets. It is possible to buy additional pearls to make it easier to level up and buy helmets, but the game does hand out pearls in the game itself and for getting 3 stars on a regular basis.
However, the game is still set up where stats and level ups are not a substitute for proper positioning and strategy. Staying away from dangerous spots in the levels and plotting properly is just as important as having the squids be powerful enough. The game is also designed to explore its concept: there’s plenty in the way of unique levels that utilize certain characters, or emphasisze aspects like the seahorses to ride, or maps that really force players to stay away from the edges that lead to bottomless pits. Challenge levels are also availalbe that emphasize certain prerequisites, such as navigating a squid through a tricky layout in 2 turns, or killing all enemies in only one turn. Oh, and the game has iCloud sync that actually works. It's a miracle.
Squids Wild West may not be a game for those who are hardcore turn-based strategy fans, as the amount of entropy involved in the game does derail some of the careful planning. But for the Angry Birds set looking to get in to a new type of game, Squids Wild West is a fun introduction.