App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Action games can be tough to pull off on mobile, but many folks have found success through the use of slo-mo mechanics. Cookies Must Die is the latest big mobile title that allows players to manage overwhelming amounts of action via time manipulation abilities, and it’s pretty fun before fatigue sets in and you feel like you have to grind or pay to make progress.
Cookies Must Die is a game about being an action hero like Neo from The Matrix, but this game is far less serious than that. Instead of black leather and cyberpunk aesthetics, this game is bright, cartoony, and features anthropomorphized confections as your enemies.
Yes, you heard that right. In Cookies Must Die, you do slow-motion backflips while shooting at chocolates, jellies, and—of course—cookies. Your character runs, shoots, and melees these dastardly desserts automatically, but in order to give him a fighting chance at living through these encounters you need to tap and drag on the screen to aim jumps, dodges, and attacks.
Cookie cutter design
When you touch the screen in Cookies Must Die, the game slows to a crawl, which is all but necessary to manage everything going on in any given level. At full speed, the action here is super hectic, and enemies can flood the screen with attacks in a way that’s almost akin to bullet hell shooters.
Luckily, your job isn’t just to kill everything you see. Instead, stages of Cookies Must Die usually involve finding one or more keys that allow you to unlock a door to the exit of the level. This can lead to situations where you can duck and weave your way through enemies to assassinate a keyholder, which admittedly feels badass... the first couple times you do it. Without a whole lot of level or objective variety though, Cookies Must Die gets a bit repetitive, especially once the difficulty curve spikes.
Good times, bad times
Even though Cookies Must Die offers players all sorts of weapons and skills to upgrade, none of them really change the gameplay in a way that feels meaningful or effective unless you grind out or pay for lots of currency to upgrade them. And, if you do grind or pay for these upgrades, then you can continue to make progress through the game, although most of it seems to be the same kind of action you were seeing before.
I get that people who make games need to make money somehow. I also know that a big part of that is by enticing players to make in-app purchases, especially when you’re releasing a game for free. My problem with Cookies Must Die’s model though is that it fails to give me a reason to want to spend money on it. By the time I got to the point where my character felt too weak, end-stage bosses and enemy types were already starting to repeat themselves.
In a way, I guess this is kind of nice, because it means I was able to get what I wanted out of the game before reaching some kind of barrier. But on the other hand, it’s a bit confusing and disappointing that developers Rebel Twins fine-tuned an awesome mechanic just so it could be tossed into a monetized treadmill of a game.
The bottom line
It’s entirely possible to have a fun hour or two with Cookies Must Die without spending a cent on it. In that time, you’ll also likely see just about everything the game has to offer. From there, Cookies Must Die cranks up the difficulty in hopes you’ll spend more time and/or money on it, all without really convincing you that you should.