Splitter Critters is an innovative and very challenging puzzle game, unlike anything that I’ve played before. The game comes with two modes, a regular 2D games mode, and an Augmented Reality game mode. (introduced in version 1.2.2). You activate the AR mode by clicking the ‘AR’ icon in the top left corner. This AR model was developed using ARKit, so like all the other ARKit games, it requires an iPhone or iPad which is compatible with Apple’s Augmented Reality platform.
About the AR mode of Splitter Critters
The AR mode of Splitter Critters is independent of the regular mode. The reason for that is because the AR mode adds unique and some completely different gameplay mechanics than what you find in the regular mode.
I first tried to play the game in its non-AR mode. The first time I tried AR mode, I thought that the developer just put the 2D onto a box-shaped surface and that’s it—oh boy I was wrong.
The game quickly detects a surface and spawn the game level straight away. It also allows you to spawn the game in the air while it hangs on there using two ropes. This means that you can play it almost any place you like and it will still be comfortable and accessible to play. I was able to place the level where my laptop is in a completely dark room. The game detected the flat surface where the laptop’s keyboard is and just place it there without any problems.
Another cool thing is that if I moved the camera away from the game and I come back, it shows the level in the same place I left it on. It had some slight jittering, but I was really surprised how accurate the placement was. I actually moved back a few meters and moved the camera away from the table I was playing on and it still was able to snatch it back onto the surface. To be honest, this is the first time I play a game that was able to do that so accurately without throwing the level completely out of place.
Before we move on, let’s take a look at some some gameplay video showcasing Splitter Critter’s new AR mode.
I really liked the fact that RAC7 Game didn’t just try to design the AR levels based on the 2D levels, but make everything out of scratch. In fact, the AR levels, even the first level, was much harder than the first levels of the base game. It’s like they added it for experienced players that already played the game and want to give them something extra in this new v1.2.2 update.
In my opinion, they should consider the fact that some players, like myself, want to play the game in AR mode only and give them some easier levels as a tutorial so they can gradually get into the game (or maybe I just suck in this game LOL) That being said, after a few tries you get the point of the game very quickly. I do recommend also trying out the non-AR mode because it has some really great puzzles as well, and some of them play very differently than the AR ones.
The AR mode also has some nice finishing touches, like when you finish a level, the spaceship detaches from the box and flies out in the room and you can also push the box where the level is presented by bumping against it using your iPhone or iPad—it’s pretty cool!
How to Play Splitter Critters?
One of the best things about Splitter Critters is its innovative gameplay mechanics. The player needs to split the level using a swipe gesture and rearrange it to guide critters back to their spaceship.
The gameplay mechanics are very simple and intuitive, but this is definitely not your casual puzzler. This is, at least in my experience in AR, a very challenging puzzle game. I was stuck on some levels for more than an hour and I still have a long way to go. This game poses some real challenges and it’s a great game for those of you who like brain-teasing challenges. From all the levels that I’ve played, I haven’t encountered any level with a timer in it. So you can just sit down, relax and think about a proper way to complete each level.
There is a back button at the bottom left which you can use to roll your moves back. It’s kind of an undo button for your slices. However, this button doesn’t reset the critters placement and it can be used to build complex tactics. You can hold it in place (Swipe but don’t lift your finger) and control where the critters will move next or use it like an elevator to lift critter up or down.
Only after playing the game for 20 minutes, only then I’ve realized that the paths are three-dimensional. I first didn’t understand why I am aligning a path and the critter looks down and not passing through. One I tilted my iPad I’ve noticed that the shadowed path signifies a part at the back and the bright path signifies a path at the front.
It gets even better than that. I also found out that the critters can pass through from the back to the front if you position your device so the scene looks like a 2D scene (aim the camera right at the center front). It’s just unbelievable how original and innovative the game mechanics are. RAC7 Games really did a remarkable job with the AR mode in Splitter Critters, It’s really rare to get to play a game that plays so magnificently on the screen and does that with such an elegance and simplicity.
Splitter Critters isn’t (AR mode) isn’t the first game that plays with perspective. Games like ARise and YuME: Alice’s Dream also adapt these mechanics. It really fits AR because the play can move around the environment and actually in many AR games this not just encouraged, it’s a necessity. Some games allow you to rotate the stage, so you won’t need to move around it. Not every person can play in a place where you can just move around an area. For example, if you generate the level on a table right beside a wall, you won’t be able to go around it. Splitter Critters doesn’t have this, but it’s not that necessary to be honest. That being said, changing perspective means that you’ll need to tilt the device and stretch up a bit so you can use that three-dimensional mechanic.
For example, in one of the levels, I looked at the level in 2D so a critter can pass and then immediately changed the perspective and now because in 3D there is a gap, the critter couldn’t pass through, such an ingenious gameplay mechanic!
Each level in each world brings new challenges and new types of critters to enhanced the gameplay experience even more; each one has its own quirks and abilities When you thought you’ve already seen it all, the game drops something new that makes you recalculate your strategies and try to find out new ways to deal with the situation. because of the variety of critters and unique challenges in each world, you never get bored and you just feel that you have to get back there to see what’s coming up next.
The game was comfortable to play on the iPad although after about an hour my fingers start to hurt a bit. I guess holding the iPad for more than an hour and doing lots of swipe gestures was a bit too much for my hands and slim fingers.
Graphics & Music
Splitter Critters is a beautiful game, boasting vibrant cartoony visuals, enchanting music, and sound effects. Each world you play has its own unique and immersive soundscape.
Splitter Critters has won many awards like “Apple Design Award and “Editor’s Choice” , ‘Most Innovative Game” award by Casual Connect, “Best Game Design” by Casual Connect and many others. I’ve read that information in the press release after I’ve played the game in order to review it. My own experience with the game is aligned with the recognition that this game has received worldwide.
Should You Buy Splitter Critters?
Absolutely yes! especially if you love puzzle games. I enjoyed playing both the 2D and AR version of the game. It is actually like getting two games in one due to the fact that both played quite differently in terms of the gameplay mechanics.
I still haven’t finished the game just yet, but I do plan to go back playing it right after I finish writing this review. I’ve also heard that the developer plans to add new levels in future updates, so there is plenty to wait for.
With ingenious level design, captivating music and superbly innovative and enjoyable gameplay mechanics in both AR and 2D mode, it’s well worth every cent I pay for it. You can play it almost anywhere you go, just a single surface in a dark room will be enough to spawn the game and start playing it.
The Augmented Reality part doesn’t feel like an update but like a completely new game. Its mind-bending puzzles will force you to think in completely new ways. It’s amazing how what seems like a simple puzzle game in Augmented Reality can provide such an immensely fun gameplay experience.
You know what I’m going to do now.. no, not another review today, this will wait for tomorrow. Right now I’m going to play Splitter Critters—Cheers.