Seal Force – Review

A REVIEW OF Seal Force I WROTE FOR THE WEBSITE WWW.SQUARE-GO.COM

In video games ongoing quest to transform all animals into anthropomorphic heroes, most of your basic creatures have already been covered. Which means that games designers have to push the boat out in order to find a creature they can plaster on the front of their game. So as we’re talking about boats which go on water, how about Seals? Now you just need a name. Hyper Seal Team Go? Too far. Seal Force?

That’ll do.

Seal Force is an iOS release that has you commanding a trio of seals as they try to catch some villains who’re based on another sea-based creature, in this case krill. It’s a line drawing game; each seal is a different colour which matches different krill. Your seals are on the left side of the screen, the krill approaches from the right, and as they approach you draw a line from one the seals through the krill of the same color. The seal then swims out, follows the line, destroys the krill and returns to their side of the screen.

Simple to control, nice looking graphics and a decent challenge. Should be great.

It isn’t though. Why is that? It’s tricky to say but it would have to be down to that bit about the difficulty.

A hard game is one thing, but a game that makes itself hard in order to push you towards in-app purchases is another thing entirely. Yes, Seal Force has you collecting shells which you can use to upgrade your seals and the power-ups they collect. Which is fine. Only you can buy bundles of shells without really playing the game to make it easier.

Sure, Seal Force isn’t the first game to do this and won’t be the last but it feels cynical. The balance of the game at first is hard, your seals feel underpowered and you die. A lot. It takes a lot of collecting before you have enough shells to get the decent power ups, unless you want to buy some.

This turns the game into a grind and takes out a fair chunk of the fun. There is no inherent problem with in-app purchases but when it affects the quality of the game that’s when there is a problem. The game is free on the app store so the purchases are there to fully support the game which, again, is fine. This type of game is very successful on the App store but that doesn’t stop it from feeling annoying.

So Seal Force then becomes a decent game that is a bit too cynical for its own good. It can be fun but to get to that point you either need to drop more money on it or be willing to no have any fun with it for a fair old while. Neither of those choices is particularly welcoming, your best bet is to download it and give it a go. If you have fun, spend some money to make it more fun.

Three stars out of five

Originally published January 19th 20112

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