Chillingo, the publisher behind mobile titles such as Modern Conflict and Angry Birds, has yet another hit on its hands with its most recent release from developer ZeptoLab, Cut the Rope. Having been released for the iPhone on October 5th and on the iPad October 7th, the app, $0.99 and $1.99 respectively, has already climbed to #1 on both of Apple’s iDevice paid app charts, not to mention #1 top grossing for the iPhone and #3 for the iPad. Even the free, lite versions are #1 in their category on both devices.
Cut the Rope, like past Chillingo games, takes simple physics and controls to create a quaint, yet quirky puzzle title. A game whose quality is virtually indistinguishable between iDevices (save for resolution), it’s an ideal title that can be played for either or few minutes or over an hour at once.
The plot of Cut the Rope is that the player has, for some reason, received a package containing a bizarre dinosaur, lizard, monster… thing. The game informs the user that all they need to do to care for it is feed it candy. Of course, the method of doing so is a bit trickier than one would assume.
Sitting in a random portion of each level is the little pet monster, and dangling from a rope is a nice chunk of hard candy. Using a cutting motion, the player can cut the rope and, lo and behold, the candy falls with accurate physics. The objective is to hit the creature with it. Obviously, just these basics aren’t all that much fun, so each level comes with new obstacles and toys to play with.
Of all the different, level-based mechanics, the most used in the game is the attachment of candy to multiple ropes of varying lengths. Players can cut one, or many simultaneously, and the candy will fall based on the directional momentum. Nevertheless, once the ropes are cut, should the treat not hit the creature, the player will fail. It becomes a task of cutting the rope(s) at the right time.
Depending on the level, this will vary in pacing. Occasionally, players will have all the time in the world to figure out a puzzle, and other times, only a few seconds, due to obstacles such as spikes or electricity that will break the candy should it swing or fall into them, or spiders that climb down ropes to eat it (they will fall should the rope they’re on be cut).
This is only the tip of the iceberg, as players will encounter dozens of other challenges including bubbles that cause the candy to float upward, ropes attached to moving platforms, ropes that extend only when the candy is near, air bags that allow the user to push the candy in a particular direction, and so on. Each of these plays a role in dozens of unique puzzles and are all controlled with a simple tap (e.g. popping bubbles or using air bags).
All these mechanics make each level feel very different then the one before it, presenting a challenge progression that rarely repeats the same problem. At times, similar conundrums will present themselves, yet they must, almost always, be solved in a different manner.
To add to the challenge, Chillingo incorporates the collection of stars in each level, as well as a scoring system based on collecting said stars and time for completion. As one might expect, the stars are not always in the most convenient of places. Not only does this increase the difficulty, but also plays part in the game’s social mechanics.
Part of the Crystal social gaming network, Cut the Rope comes with competitive leaderboards for each of the game’s stages, as well as a handful of achievements. Unfortunately, the latter is somewhat lacking at the moment, but everything the user does is connected to the Crystal network, which allows for the finding of friends, game recommendation, and both Facebook and Twitter integration. While the network has the support for player challenges, these do not appear available for Cut the Rope.
Overall, Cut the Rope, for either the iPhone or the iPad, is a game well worth the price tag. With the level of quality expected from any of Chillingo’s developer divisions, it makes for an excellent addition to any iDevice app collection.