Splice : Tree of Life ($3.99) by Cipher Prime Studios is a microbial puzzle game that is unlike anything you have ever seen before on iOS. It exemplifies the motto, “Think different.”
If you weren't already aware, Splice was originally released on Steam back in June. It was developed by the same guys that brought us Fractal : Make Blooms Not War and Pulse : Volume One, so right from the get-go, I knew that this was going to be good, no matter what. And I was right.
Even though the other two games from Cipher Prime are music-related, it isn’t going to be what you find in Splice. But it’s still highly recommended that you play this game with headphones for the most immersive experience.
The game will consist of different chapters, called Sequences. Each sequence will have several strands (levels) for you to solve. With every strand, you will be given several cells that you must rearrange into the specified structure in only a few moves (or splices). Sounds easy, right?
Far from it.
This is definitely one of the most challenging puzzle games that I’ve come across on my iPad, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I love a good challenge every now and then, and Splice definitely delivers.
To move a cell, you just touch it and drag it to an open slot, as dictated by the game. If you drag it elsewhere, the cell will just go back to its original spot. Each cell will have a different kind of mutation when spliced — some cells will change spots once interfered with, others will grow an extra cell, another cell may disappear, and then some will make things easier (or harder) by splitting up into two symmetrical halves.
The game is definitely going to have a lot of trial and error. I found myself experimenting by splicing different cells until I figured out a pattern, and then memorized the moves that would work to solve the strand. You won’t be able to solve the strand if you go over the allowed number of splices, so you will need to plan ahead. You can always restart the level with the button at the top, or go back to the previous state by scrubbing on the timeline.
The game features some of the most gorgeous visuals I have ever seen for a puzzle game, though I’d expect nothing less from Cipher Prime. The backgrounds are a beautiful mix of two color gradients, made to look like you are actually observing something under a microscope. You can see the previous strand or menu blurred out in the background as well, with the current strand in the foreground in Retina glory. Splice also makes use of the iPad’s accelerometer, since the visuals will react to any movement.
As I said earlier, this game doesn't really involve music in the game mechanics, but you will want to have your headphones on anyway. Splice features a calming instrumental soundtrack that will keep you engrossed in the game. In fact, the music is so good that Steam even offers the Splice Soundtrack Edition in their store. It's some of the best puzzle game music I have ever heard.
Splice is definitely an experimental puzzle game, but it’s done right. You will think like a real biologist once you get going on the game, and it will make you feel brilliant each time you solve a strand. If you love stunning visuals, amazing tunes, and challenging puzzles and riddles, you won’t want to miss Splice.
For even more puzzle goodness, make sure to check out our Games for Puzzle Lovers AppList.