Astroslugs – Review

A review of Astroslugs I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

The animal kingdom has long been an inspiration for the video game industry; from hedgehogs to lemmings, bobcats to foxes, most animals have at one point been given a sly grin and an alliterative first name. Except slugs. Slugs seem to have got a bum wrap in all this, but not now thanks to Astroslugs.

Astroslugs is a puzzle game for the iPad with a nicely tacked on story about helping slugs travel through space and collect plenty of slug energy. How do you do this? By matching shapes in a grid of empty planets, naturally. How else do you collect your slug energy? It’s not like it gets delivered by the slug man every morning, a bit of effort and space travel is a requisite surely.

This is trickier than it sounds as it boils down to your spatial awareness; you are given a blank grid of planetoids arranged in a particular way. You are then given a checklist of shapes like straight lines or small diagonals, with a certain number of each shape required. You then have to fit these into the blank grid, you do this by drawing the shape onto the blank planets which are then joined up with coloured space slug slime.

The goal is to fill up the grid using all of your allotted shapes without leaving any blank planets. As a puzzle system it’s not as frantic as something like Tetris as you can work at your own pace but this works in it’s favour. It’s the kind of puzzle game where you can ponder, think about a move, stroke your chin in a knowing way even if you’re completely stuck.

Astroslugs also uses the hardware very well, bringing in several of the iPad gestures to make things easy for you. Filled in lots of shapes but failed at the last hurdle? Swipe with four fingers and everything is removed. Drawing is easy and never feels inaccurate which is always helpful in a game like this.

The art style is easy on the eyes, it doesn’t need to anything flashy so it doesn’t. The music is easy to listen to and, again, doesn’t need to anything flashy. Does a puzzle game need to do any more than that? Not really, all it needs to do is present the puzzle in the simplest, clearest way possible which is what Astroslugs does.

There are a fair number of puzzles in the game that ramp up in complexity fairly quickly. There is a decent hint system built into the game; if you’re stuck for a while a hint box pops up showing you where to place certain shapes. It’s unobtrusive so you’ll only use it when you want to.

Astroslugs isn’t a game changer. It isn’t a game that will inflame your heart with passion and make you run out into the streets demanding all and sundry to download it immediately. What it will do is find a place on your home screen and just sit there, waiting for a quiet five minutes or so.

Four stars out of five

Originally published July 25th 2011

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