SplicePosted by Tom on 16th June, 2012
Splice is probably about cells or microbes or something, but that really doesn’t matter. What Splice is really about is beauty. From every element of the presentation down to the truth of the game’s mechanic, Splice is about beauty.
Like SpaceChem, the game hinges on efficiency. You have a limited number of moves, and you have to change the cell you start with into the outlined cell you want to end with. In the early levels you’re unlikely to have trouble finishing the puzzle within the splice limit, but as the game progresses you have to ensure that you’re as optimal as possible just to break even.
It’s easy to find the inefficiencies in your sequence, because scrolling the mouse up and down rushes you back and forth through your steps with Braid-esque audio-visual effects. As the levels got more complicated, I found myself building up elements of the level one at a time, scrolling back and forth to ensure I had one piece complete before I moved onto the next.
The game’s difficulty ramps up in a really smart way. Each world that introduces a new mechanic contains puzzles that revolve around that mechanic and that mechanic alone. The next world will contain the new mechanic in the context of all the mechanics that preceded it, teaching you how everything works together.
The system is incredibly simple and incredibly deep, and the puzzles go all the way towards exploring the depth. There are three types of special cell and an additional mechanic that gets introduced in the late game. The small number of mechanics and the simplicity of execution means that the late game puzzles are difficult, but completely fair.
And here, we come to the part of the game that really blew me away: the presentation. Cipher Prime Studios are clearly experts in user interface on every level. The menus flow into one another quickly and artfully, the buttons are minimalist without ever sacrificing readability, the entire screen reorients itself as you move your mouse around. Even the small amount of language used has a certain poetry to it: when you complete a level with moves to spare it is “Angelic”.
I highly recommend this game. It’s worth playing the demo just to feel how it plays, especially since your demo progress carries over to the full game. It’s out on Steam now for £6.99, but it’s worth shelling out the extra £2 for the incredible piano soundtrack (or just get it from their Bandcamp if you hate good puzzles but love good music).