I was confused when I first saw the title for World of Gibbets. I kept thinking to myself, “What the hell is a gibbet?” It sounds like a cute animal. Maybe it was a relative of those little gibbon monkeys you sometimes see at the zoo. Boy, was I wrong. A gibbet refers to an instrument of public execution and gibbetting was the act of stringing up bodies for public display in order to keep the community in line. What a lovely topic for a little iOS game.
It is rare to find an iOS title with such an adorable sounding name that is so morbid. You have one objective in World of Gibbets --to use your bow and arrow to shoot through a gallows rope to release someone from being hanged before his health meter runs out. At its core, it is a physics based puzzler, of which there are thousands of other titles. So, World of Gibbets has a mountain of competition and really needs to set itself apart. Sadly though, it doesn’t do enough. The morbid mechanic makes it more unique, but the rest of the game is simply functional.
The look of World of Gibbets is adorable at first glance; lots of bright colors and cartoony looking characters. But, when you take a closer look at the simple graphics, you start to notice that this whole game quite morbid. What I originally thought were scarecrows up on the gallows were actually people. You first notice this when you miss a shot. Hit one of the people instead of the rope, and a bit of blood spurts out and they let out a little shriek. It is quite disconcerting when you think about it. Under this veneer of cartoonish whimsey lies a sinister question. Why are all these people being hanged?
Anyway, the graphics are cute and cartoony, but what about the controls? This is where you run into a bit of trouble. In order to fire the bow and arrow to liberate innocent necks from the noose, you have to aim in the desired direction and slide your finger in that direction to gauge how much power to use. It works, but I occasionally found myself trying to peek under my finger to see how much force I was using for a particular shot. It would be much better if you could drag your finger back the natural way you’d use a bow an arrow. That way you wouldn’t be obscuring your shot in any way and make the more tricky challenges slightly easier. The way it stands though, the controls can sometimes get in your way.
As you progress through the game, new elements and powers are introduced to further complicate gameplay. You get little targets that you can hit to transport your bow and arrow to a new location to get a better angle on your forlorn condemned. There are also power-ups that allow your arrow to pass through walls. Each of these adds a new dimension to the gameplay and really opens up the possibility for more challenges.
World of Gibbets has one serious flaw which is its inconsistent difficulty. It will raise the challenge level slightly with each level, then smack you in the face with a near impossible level to beat. Once you struggle through that, it goes back to being simple again. A simple shuffle of the levels to make the difficulty curve more even would make the game progress a lot more smoothly.
Overall, World of Gibbets is a strange little physics puzzle game that is slightly creepier than it first appears. It has a decent number of levels that are cleverly built, but it doesn’t do quite enough to set itself apart from the rest.
It doesn’t do a lot to innovate gameplay or flip turn the expected on its head, but it does do a solid job of providing your brain with some problems to solve. It’s a good way to have a bit of fun on public transit or while in line at the bank, but it certainly won't capture your attention when you're at home with a console under your TV or steam on your PC.