Friday, August 17, 2012

Critter Escape [Chillingo + KIZ Studios] - $0.99

Earlier in the week, we reviewed a new Chillingo title, Chimpact. In that review, we kind of noted a couple of complaints about previous Chillingo titles, and their lack of updates and support. But recently, I’ve been chatting it up with a couple of developers who have had their games published by the big name company, and it really looks like our complaints might just be a thing of the past. Hopefully. 
Chimpact, Orc: Vengeance, Jelly Jumpers, Catapult King, Eager Beavers, and more are recent releases that have either already received updates, or have updates in the works, which is fantastic news for gamers, and Chillingo. Hoping to add to the revival of this tradition is KIZ Studios, offering up their first iOS title, Critter Escape. 

The first thing that drew me to Critter Escape wasn’t the screen shots, or the game’s description. It wasn’t word of mouth, that it’s a Chillingo publication (meaning that it was most likely going to be a very well made, and nicely polished title), or even the trailer for Critter Escape. Nope, what drew me to the game was the development team. KIZ Studio has a great little section on their Official Website detailing not only their History, but also their studio’s Values. In this section, they list some pretty impressive traits that was what really piqued my interest in Critter Escape. Not only do I have faith that Critter Escape is going to get updates, and be tweaked to become the best possible game KIZ can make it, but they’re a development studio that I have no problems in wanting to support. 

Now, Critter Escape. Critter Escape is a sort of stealth influenced action/arcade adventure title that puts you in control of a cute little creature that kind of looks like a bean with arms, legs, and a face. Of course, completing the look is his spiffy crash test helmet. When you start the game up, you’ll be able to watch a cut-scene showing you how this little critter was captured by a scientific team in order to perform various tests on him. Before you start the first level, you’ll see another cut-scene showing the critter cuddled up in bed, sucking his thumb, and looking incredibly worried about his future. 

Luckily, the scientists forgot to pick up every chemical agent, and you’re able to use these to your advantage. Items that turn you into a huge monster, able to smash your way through guards, speed boosters that let you zip by and away from guards and ghost pick ups, turning you invisible and a superhero pick up that gives you super speed and strength can all be found scattered throughout the world of Critter Escape. While you’re playing, you’re also able to collect, and will earn gems which you can use to purchase these power-ups from the pause menu. When purchased, instead of only taking effect for a short period of time, the pause menu items last the entire level. So if you’re having trouble with a certain level, you’re able to blast through it by purchasing these power-ups. You’re also able to purchase gems through IAP, but these are not required to complete the game, or to unlock any specific levels, as everything can be seen, experienced and completed without the gems. 

Each of the levels fits into different objective categories. They are grouped together, with about 4 levels in each group. These range from not being detected, escaping the level before the timer runs out, knocking out all of the guards, rescuing other critters, escaping without using any special items and more. With 120 levels, there are more than just a couple of these objectives. There are also 10 separate environments, adding to the look, feel and immersion of the gameplay. 

Critter Escape contains two different control schemes. One is a virtual joystick that appears whenever and wherever you set your finger down on the screen, and the other is a line drawing scheme. I have had some issues with the joystick controls, as they’re pretty finicky, and I’ve constantly found myself needing to readjust my thumb on the screen, and if you’re controlling your character, and accidentally touch the screen with another finger, or the side of your hand, the controls stick until you pick your finger up again. The line drawing controls work a lot better, but aren’t really quick enough for the speedy levels, when you’re being chased, or to avoid a lot of the environmental hazards. The controls are nothing game-breaking, but they could use some tweaks, and I wouldn’t say no to a static joystick. 

Graphically, Critter Escape looks great. The character models, objects, and environments all provide a pretty immersive atmosphere, and with the great animations, the atmosphere is only increased. The various enemies and hazards all stand out, even though they graphically fit in perfectly with the environments, which is great, especially when speed running through the stages. The music and sound effects also add quite a bit to this atmosphere, and immersion, making it an extremely polished and well produced game. 

Priced at $0.99, being Universal, including GameCenter integration with 36 great achievements and having iCloud support, even with the control issues, Critter Escape is an incredibly fun and entertaining game. It has the usual polish that most of Chillingo’s publications include, and comes from a fantastic development team. KIZ Studios is definitely one to keep an eye on, especially if they follow through with their values, and make Critter Escape the best it can be. Let’s hope this is a new beginning for Chillingo, because they really do publish some outstanding mobile titles. 


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