Sneak and evade in Critter Escape

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By Pete Davison Comment

Critter Escape is a new mobile game from Kiz Studios. The game is available as a paid app on iOS, published by Chillingo, and an ad-supported free app on Android, self-published by the developers. This review is based on the Android version.

This game was tested on a Motorola Xoom running Android 4.0.4. No compatibility issues were encountered and the game’s polygonal 3D visuals ran extremely fluidly.

Critter Escape is a maze-based stealth game in which the player is tasked with helping one of the titular “Critters” — small, rubbery orange creatures who bear a slight resemblance to the “Starlings” from Digital Chocolate’s Galaxy Life — to escape from a scientific facility where it has been locked up. The game begins with an impressive animated sequence and then proceeds through a simple tutorial where the player is introduced to the basics of the game, and then the player is straight into a series of increasingly-difficult challenges. In each, the player has three tasks — escape from the level via the specially-marked door, find a hidden crystal, and complete a specific “challenge” such as remaining undetected by enemies or completing the level within a time limit. The player only has to complete the “escape” task to complete the level, but attaining the other goals rewards the player with additional stars, which are subsequently used to unlock later levels.

Critter Escape has two control schemes — a virtual on-screen joystick allows for players to take direct control of the Critter, while a “line-drawing” mode caters to those who prefer to plan their routes rather than control them directly. Both have their advantages and disadvantages — the joystick is accurate but demands players keep their finger on screen while moving; the line-drawing mode allows for planning an entire level’s movements in advance but is inaccurate, particularly when drawing at speed.

As the player progresses through the game, the complexity increases. Collectible items are introduced, allowing the Critter to turn itself invisible, engage in combat with enemies or run at double speed, and levels become increasingly labyrinthine. Optionally, the player may spend crystals they have acquired to immediately award themselves a powerup, regardless of whether it is present in the level. Crystals may also be spent on visual customization of the Critter, and form the backbone of the game’s monetization strategy. All levels can theoretically be completed without having to spend gems on powerups, but the ability to do so allows less skilled players to make constant progress if they’re willing to drop a bit of extra cash on the game.

The game features an impressive amount of content. The story unfolds across three main chapters, with each unlocked by earning a particular amount of stars in total. There is also a “bonus levels” pack which players can unlock a little at a time with various star milestones.

Critter Escape is an excellent game. Its polygonal 3D visuals are packed with character and it offers a strong, original challenge that will particularly appeal to fans of stealth-based core gamer franchises like Metal Gear Solid. It carries an impressive amount of content and monetizes in such a way that it will allow the developers to earn a decent income from virtual goods while not spoiling the experience for those who do not wish to make in-app purchases. It deserves to enjoy some success — all it needs to do now is to pick up some users.

The iOS version of Critter Escape is not yet ranked in the App Store leaderboards at the time of writing. The Android version, meanwhile, is ranked at No. 191 in the Arcade Game category. Follow both versions’ progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

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