At E3 2013, it wasn’t the AAA games that impressed me, it was the indie titles. Every AAA game was the same. Either it was a hyper violent shooter, a next gen action title that was trying to bite off God of War, or it was made by Nintendo. But indie titles, like Splice, a simple genetics based puzzle game, were out in force and they showed that in a market filled with “me toos” there is still room for innovation.
Splice’s concept is very simple. You are given a bacteria colony made of connected bacterium in a dish. If a bacterium is connected to only one other bacterium, then they connect to each other in a line. If it is connected to two bacterium, then the bacteria split off to the left and right. All bacteria in the game operate in this fashion, including the starting configuration you are given in each level.
Your job is simple, turn one configuration of bacteria into another using a limited amount of moves. You can move any bacteria colony (including a colony with a whole bunch of other branching colonies attached to it), to any legal space, a legal space being any other bacteria with either zero or one other bacterium attached to it. Note, that if you reduce the bacteria attached to a branch from two to one, it ceases splitting off in either direction and starts connecting to it linearly.
Half the puzzles in the game only have one solution. Others have a normal solution and an angelic solution. Angelic solutions are solutions that use the absolute minimum amount of moves. Usually this is caused by moving a middle bacteria somewhere that triggers a host of chain reactions that alter the position of every other bacteria in the colony. Figuring out Angelic solutions gives you trophies and unlocks bonus levels.
That’s about all there is to Splice. It’s a fun little puzzle game that really shows off what the PS4 can do graphically. Sure, it’s graphically simplistic, but the game never loads puzzles. Each puzzle takes place in the same area the last one did. The camera just pans out to show it. It’s a neat little aesthetic touch that doesn’t impact gameplay at all, but being able to zoom out and see all the bacterial colonies that you grew sure is satisfying.