Developer: 99Games
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

There is just something about a game that stars a forgetful reptile that has an endearing quality to it. In the new physics rooted puzzler Tito’s Shell, players have to help reunite the poor critter with his home away from home. Is this cartoonish undersea adventure worth combing the depths for, or should it remain left to its lonesome, “Unda da sea?”

At its core, Tito’s Shell is the kind of puzzle game that revolves around making environmental objects bend to the player’s will. There are a series of different interactions that can be done with the many different pieces of each puzzle, and it is up to each user to determine how to best bring Tito and his misplaced shell back together. When everything lines up perfectly, there is no better feeling in the world, but especially in later levels, the convoluted steps may take a considerable amount of trial and error to perfect.

What the game does well is making the mechanics to interact with the pieces in the toolbox extremely straightforward. This in turn makes even the most confusing situations approachable. While it may sound simple enough in concept, far too many games get too caught up in being clever that they end up losing sight of what is still fun. Thankfully Tito’s has a difficulty curve that ramps up in just a way that there is rarely a time where repetition results in frustration.

Another aspect that is nailed is the variety of items at a player’s disposal. A revolving door of environmental set pieces are constantly cycling in and out, helping to keep each stage feeling fresh and new. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, a new stage introduces another previously unseen mechanic. It is hard not to get excited when finishing a stage, just waiting to see what is coming next.

In an age where far too many physics puzzle games try to stump the audience into submission, Tito’s Shell proves that variety can be just as fun. Though the title may not be overly long, the process of perfecting each level could end of being a tremendous time suck. Never has venturing into the deep dark unknown sounded like so much fun.

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