Rescue the baby birds with Hareep

Hareep is a new iOS puzzle game from Touchwow Studio. The game is available now as a $1.99 Universal download from the App Store.

Hareep casts players in the role of the titular bouncing bird-like creature, who is on a mission to save its babies. For reasons that are never made entirely clear, said babies have managed to get themselves trapped behind laser beams, bombs, lava pits, blocks of ice and numerous other hazards, meaning that Hareep has a big challenge in front of it.

Levels are constructed on a grid. Tapping anywhere on the grid will cause Hareep to move to that location. If there is a clear path through hazardous obstacles, the game’s pathfinding will ensure that Hareep remains safe. If there is an obstacle in the way, however, Hareep will blunder into it and die, meaning the level has to be restarted. The game plays better on the iPad, as the small screen of the iPhone means that it’s easy to tap the wrong square and send Hareep bouncing to its untimely demise.

In order to deal with the various obstacles, Hareep must collect cards, each of which depicts an item. These items must then either be used on the obstacles or on Hareep in order to safely traverse the level. Items range from wrenches, which allow obstacles to be rotated, to buckets of water, which allow Hareep to safely pass over one fire pit or through a single laser beam. The items are introduced gradually over the course of the game but are never explained directly to the player. While this gives a satisfying feeling of “discovery” to gameplay that some players may enjoy, those who to immediately make informed decisions rather than use trial and error may be put off somewhat by this.

The game’s difficulty also ramps up very quickly. Within three levels, Hareep is confronted with some fairly mind-bending puzzles that only get more complex as the game progresses. Again, those seeking a greater challenge from their iOS titles will find the game satisfying to solve, though more casual gamers who prefer to be broken in to difficult tasks more gradually may find themselves disheartened.

The game features a level designer which unlocks after 10 of the “official” levels have been completed. These levels may then be uploaded to the Internet and shared with friends using a special code. Alternatively, players may simply browse the currently-available online levels and try a new challenge for themselves. Downloading a new level costs an in-game coin, with further coins available via in-app purchase or by having others download one of the player’s own custom challenges. The developer promises that playing and updating the game will also carry regular free coin offerings.

Hareep is a fairly original, challenging puzzle title that is a nice change from the numerous copycat games on the App Store. It has a few issues, however — the English translation is very shaky throughout (“Common!” instead of “Come on!” upon failing a level being a particularly noteworthy example) and a major bug means that starting a level then immediately returning to the menu unlocks the next stage without having to complete the previous one. This trick may be repeated over and over to unlock every level in the game without having to solve anything — though at least 10 stages must still actually be completed to unlock the custom map features.

With a little more polish, Hareep has the potential to be a decent iOS puzzle game, though the relatively high difficulty level may deter some players. If nothing else, it is good to see developers trying more original ideas rather than simply aping popular titles like Angry Birds.

As a new release, Hareep is not yet listed on our tracking service AppData. Check back shortly to follow its progress through the App Store charts.