Earlier this month we posted a brief teaser video from developer Mobigame for their newest iOS title called Perfect Cell [$5.99]. The video didn't explain much in the way of gameplay, nothing at all in fact, and we were left scratching our heads wondering exactly what Perfect Cell was all about. Now that the game has actually been released I've spent a good deal of time with it, and it has turned out to be unlike anything I could have imagined. It's sort of a mishmash of genres, with elements of action, platforming, stealth, and puzzle. These end up working really well together, and coupled with intuitive controls and a beautiful graphics engine, Perfect Cell is a good time from beginning to end.

The story of Perfect Cell starts as an asteroid crash lands to Earth in the not too distant future. Humans discover a form of life in the asteroid that is advancing at an incredible rate. They keep this life form in a research facility deep below the sea in order to study it, but after some time the alien grows into a sentient being who doesn't fancy being held in captivity. It then becomes your job to control this squid-like alien as you negotiate intricate levels full of puzzle-like traps, enemies, and hidden passages in an effort to break free.

The look of Perfect Cell employs a 2.5D perspective, similar to Shadow Complex, with fully 3D backgrounds but action that takes place on a single side-scrolling 2D plane. The lighting effects in the game look fantastic, as do the style of the characters and environments. The underwater facility almost gives off a James Bond-like vibe with giant computer panels and scientists in lab coats spread throughout. Shortly after the game begins soldiers start to infiltrate the facility, and don't seem to take kindly to the scientists, and certainly don't take kindly to the alien being.

You control your alien in Perfect Cell by simply touching and dragging to move, or touching and holding to call the alien to that position. Quickly swiping the screen performs a dashing attack that can kill enemies and bash through certain structures to find hidden areas. Later in the game a super dash attack is introduced, where you can charge up and draw a line that the alien will rapidly follow, killing anything along the path. Also, as you progress you'll run across a couple of your alien buddies which absorb into you, making you larger and stronger. You can then use a pinching apart gesture to split yourself into two or three separate beings, controlling each individually to conquer tasks that require being in multiple places at the same time.

Perfect Cell contains 35 levels to play through, and in reality it will only take several hours to complete them when destroying anything in your path. The real genius to this game comes from not killing people. There is a stealth element to the game, and its very possible to complete every level without killing a single person. This is where serious strategy comes into play. Upon seeing you guards will become alerted in a very Metal Gear Solid kind of way, minus the exclamation point above their head, and will seek you out for a short time before becoming bored and going back to normal patrol.

It would be easy to just dash attack the life out of these guards, but when trying to complete the game without killing anyone you'll need to take advantage of hiding spots and your ability to cloak yourself by staying still. Taking this pacifist's route through the game is really challenging, and practically turns Perfect Cell into two completely different games depending on how you play.

The only real problems I had while playing came from the controls. They're very intuitive and touch screen friendly, but lack precision at times when you need it. Also the dash attack isn't always reliable, and when you're counting on pulling one off during the split second when a guard's back is turned it can be detrimental when the move doesn't come through. These problems are minor, however, and for the most part there's nothing that will hamper you from progressing and enjoying the game.

There's really nothing like Perfect Cell on the iOS platform, and it offers some refreshing gameplay and fetching visuals. It doesn't take too long to whiz through the game when you're killing everything you see, but sparing lives and utilizing stealth offers a real challenge that will keep you busy for a while. There is also Game Center integration for achievements and high score tracking. Fans of games like Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid will find similar gameplay in Perfect Cell, along with the exploration and puzzle solving of the Metroid series.

Perfect Cell blends all these different elements together seamlessly, and creates an experience that feels like its own. Players in our forums have been enjoying this one too, and Perfect Cell is recommended if you enjoy any of these previously mentioned influences or are just looking for a new unique gaming experience.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • AwesomeAssassin

    Downloading it! Looks awesome slashing soldiers as a alien creature!
    (from 21.00 at Estonia(northern-east europe)

  • http://twitter.com/BulkSlash BulkSlash

    Looks excellent, I love Mobigames' stuff, especially Cross Fingers from last year. They really know how to make something unique that plays to the strength of the iPhone platform. Downloading now....!

  • Ezekiel

    "There's really nothing like Perfect Cell on the iOS platform" what the hell are you talking about Jared? don't you read your own site? TouchArcade covered a game that was practically the same! SOUL, by Kydos studio, remember? you are a soul escaping from the hospital? have to avoid the darkness? it's on the Xbox live too! but it's on the iPlatform as well.

    Great work by the way. Love it. LLLLOOOOVE it. Love it. You silly, silly Jared.

    • Jared Nelson

      Lol. Yeah I know Soul. Really great art style. But as I recall it was a pretty frustrating tilt-only game where you died if you touched practically anything in the game. Because of that I never invested too much time into it, so maybe there's something I'm missing, but I don't think the two have very much in common except a slightly similar premise.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly how I felt about Soul. As unique and downright creepy as it was, the slight brush of anything in that game would send you back to the beginning of the level. That. topped with Tilt Control = the Masochist Special on the menu of game mechanics.

    • Anonymous

      Theres not much in common... There was definitely no attacking in SOUL... And you can touch walls in this one...

  • DeadClown

    The reviewer doesn't sound terribly excited about the game. And yet doesn't point out any flaws except the precision thing.

    Odd to have a nearly flawless review that's so milquetoast.

    • diffusion8r

      I just learnt a new word in 'milquetoast'.

      Thank you for making wrapping christmas gifts enjoyable for once, DeadClown. :)

      • DeadClown

        Ha. No problemo.

        I learned the word from Bloom County (the comic) way back when newspapers had comics. And we had newspapers.

        There was a cockroach named 'Milquetoast', so I had to hit a dictionary so I could stop imagining putting cockroaches on my breakfast food. :)

    • Joker13z

      mmm milquetoast...best kind of toast

      • DeadClown

        Pass teh syrup and roaches plz.

    • Jared Nelson

      Oh crap, I didn't sound excited?

      Ummmmm wooohooo Perfect Cell!! You are awesome! *fist pump*

      Just so I'm clear, I think this game kicks ass.

      • DeadClown

        Ha! There it is!

        I think you did a great job with the review; just surprised at the stoic-y tone.

        Sidenote: since TA doesn't use a quantitative review metric (incidentally: why not?), I sometimes read the first and last paragraphs of a review and gauge the "overall score" by the tone and adjectives used. I don't know if others do that or not, but for me, it's a pretty reliable shorthand.

      • Jared Nelson

        Thanks :) That's not a bad idea, reading the first and last paragraph. I usually try to summarize main points in both of those paragraphs, and leave the details for the middle.

        Actually we did start using a 5 star rating system sometime last year, and then used that to form our "Best of the Month" posts. But we got kinda backed up on those around May or June, and stopped doing them. We've since gone back to rating games again, but you won't see the rating until the end of the month roundup deal. At least, that's the plan.

        I actually hate rating games, and it's sort of because of the reason you said. I want people to actually READ the reviews, and too often people get hung up on a score rating instead of taking in all the information in a review and using it to form their own opinion. I'm guilty of this myself, BTW. But in the end people want that rating, so we'll start doing it again. Incidentally I gave Perfect Cell 4 stars :)

      • DeadClown

        Really good points. I do remember the star-system used for some reviews, but I don't think I ever understood why some reviews seemed to get the pointy lights and others didn't.

        But your point about ratings discouraging reading is right on. They really do. But without something numerical, it's a lot harder to comparison shop between similar games.

        Maybe the solution is (and honestly, I dont' mean to be presumptuous and, like, tell y'all my stupid opinion) to make the last paragraph formally a summary. I mean, it usually is anyway. But if I knew that every TA review I read had a succinct, all-points summary spiel at the end, it'd be a bit easier to get a more 'portable' overview of your take on it.

        Anyway, I've been a daily TA reader for I-don't-even-know-how-long, so clearly it doesn't bother me THAT much. :)

  • http://twitter.com/MPatrick317 Matthew Patrick

    is this eX?

    • Foo

      Yes. The game that Mobi stole from the original creator.

  • Jijonajonwero

    Pretty sweet game, has some small issues (like no screen flip - it's 2010 damn it) reminds me of Shadow Complex a lot due the art style.

    C'mon Chair - port the Shadow Complex - if it looks like this it would be a system seller :D

  • Awesome

    WARNING ALL IPHONE PIRATES! Dont even try to download game right now, because the mobigames uses anti-crack protection :P

    • natroojef

      LOL, I just figured it out..$4.99 is still too pricey though):

  • Anonymous

    I do not "want to be arrogant and, like, y'all tell me stupid) to do the last bit formal outline. I think she was anyway.

    Motorcycle Parts

Perfect Cell Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4