When Splitter Critters by Canadian game studio RAC7 caught my eye, I initially wrote it off as a game for young kids. I think it was the paper cut-out art style that made me jump to that conclusion. Digging a little deeper, I realized I was wrong. Splitter Critters is a game that anyone who likes puzzle games will enjoy. What’s more, its gameplay is truly innovative. I should have known better; this is the same team behind Dark Echo, a pioneering game from 2015 based on exploring a strange world through sound.
The object of Splitter Critters is to guide a group of aliens back to their spaceship. The aliens wander back and forth, trapped by the terrain. You need to create a path back to their ship, which is where the clever gameplay mechanics come in. Swiping your finger across the screen tears the environment in two. The world can be split at any angle, which opens up nearly endless possibilities. You can then shift the two pieces to alter the world around the aliens doing things like lowering a cliff on which they are trapped to a lower level where their spaceship sits. There is an element of the classic game Lemmings in Splitter Critters and the way you guide the aliens to a goal, but how you do that is so unique that the utility of the comparison is limited.
As you progress through the levels, new challenges arise. Pits of water, creatures that want to eat your aliens, lasers, and other obstacles need to be avoided. Levels are made even harder by the fact that the number of times you can adjust the background is limited, so you need to be thoughtful about your approach.
Splitter Critters’ artwork makes the creatures and their planets feel like paper cutouts, which fits perfectly with the game mechanics. I also like how the little aliens bleat as they wander around, and enjoyed the atmospheric soundtrack.
What I’ve found the most fun about Splitter Critters, though, is its deceptive simplicity. The puzzles are challenging, and the mechanics add a fresh, new approach. With millions of games on the App Store, many of which are casual puzzle games, that originality is rare, which makes Splitter Critters a must-try for anyone who enjoys this kind of game.
Splitter Critters is available on the App Store for $2.99.