The BAFTA-nominated Home Sheep Home [$.99] began its life as a free Flash game. Now, after 80 million impressions, it can be found on the App Store for 99 cents. I tend to dig what indie houses do with their Flash ports. There are some sloppy ones, sure, but as a whole, small studios tend to push out phenomenal, detail-oriented variants of their core game on touch devices. Home Sheep Home doesn’t deserve this level of praise, however it is still a sharp puzzle game with the right amount of content, color, and character.
The setup is simple: Home Sheep Home gives you control of three sheep, each of which has different attributes based on its respective weight. The goal is to take all three sheep from one side of a level to the other while navigating a physics puzzle molded around the fact that one sheep is small, the other medium, and the other huge.
Perhaps this is a kickback from its mobile roots, but Home Sheep Home's puzzles are designed with few variables; in fact, the game as a whole is casual-focused and linear, so don’t expect to cranium-busting challenges. On average, I get the gist and start executing on the correct solution within a minute or so of viewing a level.
For what it’s worth, I never feel like the design robs me of “A-ha!” moments despite its for-the-browser simplicity and breeziness. Each of the game’s 15 levels features a unique challenge with different obstructions, so that helps, too.
I imagine the fact that you're 'only' getting 15 levels might rub some the wrong way, and I get that, but I see it as a strength; Home Sheep Home has a focus and each of its levels has a unique vision -- there’s little regurgitation, recycling, or repetition.
I’d like to think that the activity required also adds to the overall value. You switch sheep constantly in order to fiddle with various triggers, push environmental objects, or simply reach the other side of a chasm. You’re doing a lot even though the solutions are clear.
Art is a real feature in Home Sheep Home as you’ve probably noted. It features a hip washed out, scribbled kind of look that informs the light-hearted puzzles and gives the sheep, which would be otherwise flat, some actual character. Plus, doesn’t the art just give off the vibe that this is a friendly, calm, and whimsical world?
You can check out this video of the Flash version of Home Sheep Home to get an idea of the gameplay, but be warned that this is a walkthrough video and will spoil the solution to all 15 puzzles. Watch at your own discretion:
While the puzzles are tight and the art is great, Home Sheep Home does stumble with its control implementation. Movement is forced via a little slider at the bottom that can be hard to nail when attempting to juggle multiple actions. Also, the response times seem to be off, though that might just be a fault of the physics engine, which can at times be a bit too low-gravity. These issues are nothing you can’t get over, but you’ll note them.
Rare do I come to enjoy a puzzle game in such a small wrapper, so I’m thrilled to be able to share my thoughts on this game with you. There is a thread in our forums for discussing Home Sheep Home, and if you’re in the market for a quick, cute, and warm puzzle title with a fun mechanic and a few fun twists, give this a shot.
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