SQUIDS for iOSPlatform: iPhone/iPod
Category: Action/Adventure, RPG, Strategy
SQUIDS is a fun new game for iOS provided to me by The Game Bakers. It just hit the App Store (early!) last night and will be available on Android soon. SQUIDS is a colorful strategy game featuring cartoon-like graphics. When black slime enters the underwater kingdom and begins corrupting, a team of heroes must band together. Of course, these heroes are squids. What else would they be? Combining turn-based strategy, light RPG, and touchscreen controls, SQUIDS is a welcome addition to mobile gaming.
The graphics were what first drew me to SQUIDS. The art I saw looked gorgeous, and the game doesn't disappoint. It features beautiful backgrounds with a watercolor look and colorful, detailed characters. During the game, you can zoom in for detail or zoom out for strategy. You can change the way characters look by equipping different hats, which adds a nice bit of customization. Between levels, the story unfolds through various images that provide a great way to see the wonderful art.
SQUIDS features some nice music along with sound effects that are effective. If the whole game could have been voice-acted, I'd be... well... really happy. Still, I definitely don't have any reason to complain!
The story in SQUIDS revolves around mysterious slime entering the under water kingdom. Fate pushes together a band of squids - former war heroes, elite guards, and light-hearted thieves. The story progresses through dialogue and images between levels. It's not a complicated story, but it's entertaining and more than ample motivation to continue playing. It keeps what's happening a little mysterious, pulling you into the game to find out what's occurring.
SQUIDS is a strategy game primarily but also has RPG elements. It was clearly designed with touch controls in mind. Stretch a squid back and let go to make him or her swim forward. The more you pull back, the further the squid will move. Simple, right? A squid can only move a certain amount per turn but has a meter showing how much more movement it can make.
There are four classes of squids - scout, trooper, healer, and shooter. The scout is light and fast. His special ability is the dash, allowing you to tap for a speed boost. As you level up your scout, the scout will be able to use more boosts per turn. The trooper is the heavy-hitter. Once per turn you can tap to smash all enemies within close range, dealing damage and sending them flying. The healer can heal friendly units by bumping into them. Finally, the shooter can perform ranged attacks. Once per turn, a shooter can pick an enemy to shoot that's near him.
So, how does the game flow? There are 21 levels, and each level has a goal such as get to the exit, defeat all the enemies, or survive a certain number of turns. The game is turn-based, and you control four characters. In the setup, you can choose the order of the four, and this can definitely affect how well you perform. Troopers and shooters can use their special attack at any time - before moving, between moves, or after moving. After you take your turn with each character, the enemies then take their turns. If an enemy isn't near one of your characters, it won't bother doing anything. This is nice because personally, I don't want to have to sit there waiting for all the enemies in the level to go each turn.
As I mentioned, there are RPG elements to SQUIDS as well. As you defeat enemies or complete goals, you get pearls. Pearls can be used to purchase items and characters found in the stages or to level your characters. The shop will show items and characters that you've found, but you'll have to purchase them to be able to use them. Leveling a character will increase its stats. You can compare stats across characters to determine which you want to use. There are many items to find, and each is specific to a certain class. However, characters can equip all items for its class. You'll start with four characters, and there are eight characters total. You can have four characters on your team at a time. Between levels you're able to swap characters, but I tended to stick with a set team.
If you ever really need more pearls, you can purchase them with real money. I was fully exploring every level and completing every additional challenge (more on this later) before moving on to the next level, and I was never hurting for money. I couldn't afford everything all at once, but I didn't feel the need to perform an in-app purchase. I think this is fantastic; they don't force you to feel the need to purchase in-app currency, but you can if you want a boost.
Now, what was I saying about additional goals? This is one of my favorite aspects of the game. Besides beating the level, every level has three additional goals - find the hidden star, complete with all characters still alive, and complete within a certain number of turns. Every time you complete a goal for the first time on a level, you'll receive bonus pearls. I like to play a level first without considering additional goals at all. I'll explore the level, looking for additional items and pearls (found in treasure chests). After beating the level, I'll return and go for the additional goals. Another great thing about SQUIDS is the difficulty curve. I sailed through the first few levels. Later in the game, I started to have some trouble. I was never overly frustrated, but it's nice to lose on occasion to reinforce the idea that strategy actually does matter. Being more careful and strategizing better usually can get me through the level, but I always had the option of going back to earlier levels to complete bonus challenges as a way of earning pearls to level my characters.
SQUIDS is a fantastically fun game with a great, whimsical feel. I knew I wanted to play it after seeing the first vibrant screenshot. Recently I went on a vacation during which I was a passenger in a car for five hours. I wasn't driving. I was SQUIDSing. The game can definitely hold your attention for hours. What's great is that it doesn't demand that kind of time. Levels can easily be played in just a couple minutes each - perfect for mobile gaming. SQUIDS is available now for $0.99 on the App Store!