Developer: Press Play
Publisher: Microsoft Corporation
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Given how alien the insides of our own bodies can seem on the macro level, it’s somewhat of a surprise we haven’t seen more games tackling it as an area to explore. While Lemmy, the tentacled terror that serves as the protagonist, starts in a petri dish, it ends up quickly in the body of a mad doctor who enjoys splicing together various species. Which probably explains why he has a dolphin head. The overall story may be bizarre, but the game itself is fairly standard in how it operates.

Lemmy has three suction-podded tentacles to use to move forward bit by bit. This also leads to some rather brilliant graphical perspective changes as corners are rounded and the camera swivels to keep up. Paired with a sinister soundtrack, it really does convey how malevolent Lemmy is, even before the first eyeball enemy shows up and Lemmy’s fourth tentacle, equipped with a claw, rips it out and proceeds to devour it in gruesome fashion.

Which is to say, this is not a game for the more casual gamer, either due to content, or because of its difficulty level. Teetering somewhere between an action and puzzle game, it rapidly shifts between them, each level having challenge zones, new mechanics to introduce, and sometimes even a race to get to the end before toxins start killing Lemmy off. Another great thing about being in the body of a mad scientist is all the creative ways to kill of the protagonist exist.

Unfortunately, this can also be the downside. An easy mode exists, but the difficulty curve the game exhibits after the first ten or so levels becomes oddly steep. The shifts between strategic thinking and on-the-spot finger tapping in a frenzy occur more frequently, but often without much forewarning. This lead to my dying before I even knew what happened at times, and then having to start over. This is certainly a valid form of gaming, but when it was paired with ‘stars’ at the end being awarded for not dying once, it felt to be a rather lackluster way to pad out the replayability of the title.

Thankfully, having long ago lost my need for perfection, I was able to continue ever onward and enjoy the zany story for what it was, moving from colons to brains and many organs between. There is quite a bit to enjoy about Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin, and it has high production values. Just be prepared for some level of frustration.