Gregg is the sophomore release of independent developer Play Fripp, which is comprised of a one man team. But we were genuinely surprised to find that a solo act was able to produce such a quality game as Gregg. The puzzle genre has found its mainstay in the handheld and mobile markets, so Gregg certainly has a lot of perplexing competition. Fortunately, Gregg excels in three distinct areas that cement it as a harmless necessity - polish, charm and physics.

The character design of the sleepwalking chickens may look as if they were directly taken from the Angry Birds series, but everything else about Gregg just oozes individuality and charisma. From its introductory sequence (which is just a short video of Gregg trying to save an entire flock of sleep walking chickens), you know that you are in for simple fun atop a charming exterior.

Like most iOS-based puzzlers, Gregg is comprised of a few dozen levels, rising in difficulty with each saved chicken. Gregg follows the expected formula -- the first five or six levels force you to learn Gregg's core mechanics, such as running, letting chickens walk across your head and positioning boxes for the chickens to walk across. Each level's goal is simple, a sleepwalking chicken will appear on the left side of your screen, he will start wandering towards the right side and you must safely deliver him to the goal. The chickens can't land in pitfalls or walk across boards without dying, but Gregg can. You must use the obstacles and boxes in each level, along with your own head, to help the sleeping birds seamlessly walk from one end of the stage to another.

Gregg's physics engine is what makes these levels so unpredictable. The force and timing of how you hit the boxes and the speed you run into them matter in where they land. And you need these boxes to be perfectly lined up/stacked for these somnambulist poultry to walk across. Gregg takes the smart approach in teaching you what to do -- it forces you to figure it out yourself. In the second stage, you must simply walk across the stage while carrying the walking bird on your head. But Gregg's tutorials do not tell you how to do this, you must simply experiment and figure it out for yourself. Gregg takes this laissez-faire mentality of learning and enriches it every six or seven levels with the introductions of geysers, levitating boxes, temporary lifts, ice and various other types of obstacles/tools between each bird and the goal.

The physics engine is what makes Gregg so tricky. Gregg the Block can move very quickly across the level (pretty much as fast as you can swipe your finger across the screen), but a high degree of control is required to accurately move him. Hitting a box at too fast a speed might result in overshooting its intended destination; or worse, it could kill the bird if the box hits it. Gregg forces you to experiment and encourages you to retry its levels until you get the sequences down just right. The problem is that the bird will continue no matter what, so you must anticipate his singular path and get him to his destination.

Gregg also supports an excellent free-to-play system while trying to make some profit from all of Play Tripp's hard work. The first sixteen levels are free. If you manage to earn decent ratings for each level (score higher by collecting the out-of-your-way puzzle pieces while simultaneously helping out the bird), you can unlock an additional four levels. You can unlock three more additional sets (20 stages each) of levels for $0.99, which is quite worth it. Each set offers more level variety and keeps building atop the core mechanics by introducing more and more obstacle types. By the time you reach the very end of Gregg, you will be left scratching your head at where to even start helping your feathery companion.

Ultimately, we recommend Gregg for anyone that enjoys the puzzle genre. The gameplay itself can get boring after a while. The whines of Gregg and the whimsical music become rather repetitive. And the laissez-faire style of teaching isn't for everyone. But from a one man team of development, we are willing to overlook a lot. What's surprising about Gregg is the amount of charm it has, the ingenuity of each of its levels, and its polished design. While we recommend the free version of Gregg to most people looking for a solid game on the go that most people could enjoy, paying the extra amount to unlock the other levels should only be for puzzle enthusiasts, those looking for a challenge or to support an excellent gaming craftsman.


App Store Link: Gregg for iPhone & iPad | By Namco Bandai Games Europe S.A.S.| Price: Free | Version: 1.0.0 | 39.6 MB | Rating: 4+
8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating