If you're a fan of gorgeous puzzle games, keep your eyes open this Thursday, when Cipher Prime's Splice is due to arrive on iPad.
Splice is a microbial puzzler. The game doesn't get into terminology, so you'll have to excuse my jargon here. You've got broken microbes, magnified until they're large enough to accommodate your fingers. You pull bits of them off, splicing them into new formations, shuffling the microbe into something that can live and thrive. Some of those bits are inclined to change when you interfere with them. Some grow an extra piece. Others split into two perfectly matched twins. There are bits that destroy themselves when you act. It's complicated to bring life to these strange and contrary microbes, but what's a scientist to do?
Splice hit the PC scene a couple months back, and it's been lauded for its clever puzzles and immersive visual style. It's also known for its soundtrack, which is as lush and chill as we've come to expect from Cipher Prime. Unlike Pulse [$3.99 (HD)] and Auditorium [Free], Splice isn't a music game. Plan to play with headphones nonetheless.
I've spent a little time with the release version of Splice, and if I didn't know better I'd assume it was built specifically for iPad. There's a tactility to the experience of dragging strands around and tapping to trigger reactions. It feels like you're getting your hands dirty with real science. Maybe it's because the iPad works so well as a scientific tool in other contexts—it's easy to make the jump to imagining you're in there working through a proper simulation, looking down into real scientific environments.
It seems like Cipher Prime has gone out of its way to give that impression. It's subtle, but when you move the iPad the visuals move with the accelerometer. The whole effect is really cool; just wait till you have it in your hands—it should be just as stunning on the new iPad with its retina support. You'll feel like a proper microbiologist once you learn the ropes. Especially when you dig down into some of Splice's more complicated puzzles. Like SpaceChem, this game makes you feel brainless and brilliant in turn.
If you're the impatient sort, there's a demo on Steam that you might want to try out. Otherwise, hold on a little longer. Splice is featured as part of the PAX 10 this year, an exclusive group of indies hand-picked by the folks from Penny Arcade. It will be shown alongside iOS favorites like Containment: The Zombie Puzzler and Puzzlejuice.
Cipher Prime is launching Splice on iPad this Thursday, so it will be live and ready to go with the start of PAX. We'll be watching for it, and we'll be sure to bring you a full review after it hits.
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