Despite courting Death’s chill embrace every waking minute of their existence, The Splatters are actually a joyously buoyant bunch of colourful critters.
In fact it’d probably be fair to say that the blob-like creatures ever-present chirpiness, beaming smiles, squeaky vocals, on-screen acrobatics, cheesy tunes and love of colours vibrant adds up to the complete ingredients list of what sounds like one seriously annoying game.
And this would be true but for one very important fact………The Splatters is also an absolute riot!
Somehow developers SpikySnail Games have managed to combine all these elements from the very bowels of gaming hell and produce a finished product that oozes charm and demands attention.
The premise is to assist our Splatter friends in their goal of climbing the stairway to heaven by firing them around the single screen levels destroying a selection of carefully placed bombs. Clear all the bombs to progress, fail and you begin the round again. Simple.
The tagline here though is ‘Die with Style’ and to progress beyond the early stages you’re going to have to display the sort of style that’ll have you on the wall of fame hanging alongside a white-suited John Travolta.
Indeed, although the idea is simplicity itself the execution requires some serious forethought, devilish skill and, at times, a flash of the pearly white’s from Lady Luck. I found moments aplenty where some stroke of good fortune saw my hopes of clearing a level rise from the ashes and soar into the sky. It doesn’t take much either, victory and defeat are a mere hairs breadth apart in The Splatters.
Now to the ‘how does it all work’ cave!
The Splatters themselves come in a variety of colours, innocent enough you say, but no, only bombs of a corresponding colour can be destroyed by a Splatter of that colour, red on red, blue on blue etc. Early levels come in one colour only while later levels ramp up the difficulty by introducing a mix.
Our suicidal blobs also have a few tricks up their sleev…erm, in their goo…eww, that sounds nasty. One is the having the ability to change direction in mid-air. You move an arrow to direct the launch and then while the Splatter is soaring headlong you can completely alter the direction. This is an absolute vital tool in destroying the scattered bombs and works brilliantly. Direction can also briefly be changed after splatdown to snare a few extra bombs in the final seconds of El Splatto’s very brief lifecycle.
There’s also the equally important rewind button or Flip as it’s known. A quick press and the action hits reverse, and this is something you’ll come to love. It’s a great weapon in taking out extra explosives and progressing through the game, it also looks pretty cool, not that this matters, but well, I like it anyway.
The game keeps a steady pace and manages to build the difficulty at a manageable rate, meaning there will be times you’ll get frustrated but you’ll also be in a position to dig deep and find the skill and style to overcome.
Of course we all have those days when our resources and nous are drained and gone, but fear not, if you truly become stuck on a level you can actually watch how to complete the level before attempting it again. It’s a neat trick and although I wish I could say I’d never needed it, well, that’d be lying. I used it once or twice…..or a little more than that, I can’t remember.
Moving quickly on…
The game plays in a classic physics puzzler way, meaning there’s zero storyline, just a fiendishly addictive array of levels and challenges to vex the mind and boggle the brain. There are a few different modes to the play keeping things a little fresher but the overall way the game plays remains largely the same throughout, and this is one gripe I found. As addictive and moreish as The Splatters is, it does at times walk a very fine line between riveting and repetitive, a couple of times my big toe definitely broke that line and a brief slap of boredom hit me. Thankfully though this didn’t happen until I’d been playing for a good hour or so. I suppose, as with a lot of puzzler games, taking small doses of action may be the remedy to keep the repetition at bay.
The only other slight flaw concerns the controls. For the most part controlling the flying gooballs was pretty much a fluid affair, but occasionally it had a tendency to veer toward the sluggish. You know that feeling when you press the buttons or push the stick just a little harder in a vain attempt to make the character do what you want, well, if you don’t you will and if you do, The Splatters will see you returning to this hopeless tactic quite often.
But honestly, those are merely slight flaws in an otherwise solid and superbly executed game.
The graphics are bright, cartoony and charming, the music is (a little too) cheerful and the gameplay is (almost) perfect. The challenge is big enough to tax the best of us but thankfully manages to steer clear of the overwhelming frustration that many other similar titles seem to adopt with ease, this is in part because when playing The Splatters luck alone can sometimes see you through what, at first, seemed impossible.
To wrap up, The Splatters is a great addition to the arcade, it will almost certainly be too quirky for some or too samey for others but if what you seek is a challenging and brilliantly realised puzzler with a huge heap of fun thrown in, then look no further, The Splatters are here for you. Just make sure you wear old clothes, it’s going to get messy.