Sometimes you think to yourself, “Who came up with this game?” Gibbets 2 is about people hanging from nooses. I get Grand Theft Auto. That’s the vicarious thrill of violence. Who says in a pitch meeting, “We need a game about people hanging from nooses?” And it’s a sequel so you know there was so much demand for people hanging from nooses that they needed to make another one.
If you can get beyond the macabre premise, Gibbets 2 is a really challenging physics puzzler. Because you’ve got a bow and arrow that you can aim with the touch screen, your job is to save people from death by noose.
Which is harder than it sounds because you’ve got to find the right angle and power to slice that little sliver of rope. The danger of shooting an arrow through someone’s head is palpable, though really that’s a quicker, more humane death than strangulation. There are bonus points for combos (two or more nooses in one shot) and if boxes or cows are in the way, you have to figure out the perfect arc to hit your target.
Each level has hanging victims in different layouts with different obstacles in your way. It’s pretty ingenious how many different ways there are to shoot a bow and arrow. There’s more nuance than you’d expect. Vortexes will teleport your bow to a different point on the board, and you may need to cause a chain reaction by setting off other arrows.
Controls consist of you dragging your finger across the screen. You’re tempted to start your finger on the arrow, but that’s not necessary, and it’s actually a hindrance because you’ll run out of screen space. Just drag from the middle and you can aim and shoot any which way. Some levels require a really gentle touch, so instead of furiously dragging the bow as far back as you can, you’ll find yourself delicately swiping in millimeter increments. The bow can sometimes get turned around on you, but it’s not too bad and you can reset the bow pretty easily.
Gibbets 2 is infuriatingly fun. Some levels will have you spending hours (okay, maybe not hours but lots and lots of minutes) trying again and again for the perfect angle and power as you nearly miss the rope. The time limit adds a wrinkle too. If you take too long to aim, the people will die.
Graphics are good. They’re silly enough so that you don’t get too sad about people being hanged to death. The music is catchy. You will need to turn off the vibration in the settings. If you leave it on, you’ll be annoyed by how often your device vibrates. Every time you pull, release, read instructions, or go to the next level, your phone or tablet is shaking like it's in a paint mixer machine. It’s unnecessary.
I’m just kidding about being offended by Gibbets 2. It’s a really cool game and that macabre premise provides infinite variations on game play. I might have to go back and play Gibbets 1 to continue getting my fix of hanging debauchery. Sorry, I meant archery.