Squids, by developers The Game Bakers, is a remarkable title. It’s clever, unique and sports a quality of presentation far beyond many other iOS titles. Moreover it was a complete surprise, a surprise that turned out to be more than pleasant.
Squids puts you in control of a team of up to four squids as you follow their story from treasure hunting to ocean saving crustaceans. A terrible threat in the form of black ooze is spreading across the sea and infecting sea life, turning them into monsters. The team of squids must band together to fight this spreading evil and protect their home. It’s a simple but clever narrative that’s very well written. It gives opportunities for each of the squid’s personalities to shine through and they do so wonderfully. Each squid is a fully realised individual in terms of dialogue, design and actions.
The presentation is beautiful throughout, with meticulously detailed environments and characters. Each of your squids are uniquely designed to fit their personality, whether it be thin and snarky or heavier and wiser. They look great and are easily distinguishable from each other in-game against the expansive and detailed undersea background, which ranges from undersea fauna to a giant sea turtle. It’s certainly immersive and visually awe inspiring and surprisingly it runs flawlessly.
The surprises continue to come in how Squids plays. 21 missions span the narrative and task you with a variety of objects, primarily focused around exploring a level or combat. Your squids each have their own set of movement skills, strength and armour, which can all be upgraded over time with pearls gathered from each mission. The result is each squid feels very different to use, with different strengths for overcoming obstacles or combating foes. They fit into one of four classes, shooter, trooper, scout and healer, and using each squid in their role effectively is the trick to getting through each level. You can also equip hats to boost your squid’s stats further.
Whilst each squid’s upgradable stats paired with the narrative suggest an RPG, the RTS influence is undeniable. Squids mirrors titles such as Final Fantasy Tactics, at heart it’s a tactical game of figuring out how to get to items scattered around each level and how to combat foes. Movement and combat is performed by pulling on your squid’s legs and flinging them across the screen, with each turn consisting of a set number of flings per squid. This is also how you attack enemies, by charging into them, and once you squid’s turns are up the enemy gets their chance to hit back. Your squids also perform different moves in combat and movement in general depending on their class, for example the healer can heal fellow squid by charging into them, and the scout can boost in normal movement to fight currents. It’s a brilliant system of movement and combat that’s simple to use but tactically vast.
Squids is certainly an impressive title, but it’s not necessarily to everyone’s taste. The RPG/RTS mixture is a system that always splits opinions and whilst there’s depth to the narrative for an iOS title it’s still not as compelling as console and PC alternatives. It’s fun and creative whilst also being a technical marvel and whilst it’s a little short, feeling like you want more of it is hardly a bad thing. All in all, Squids is a must buy for iOS. If you’ve yet to try gaming on you iOS device you’re certainly missing out.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: iOS Release Date: 11/10/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Squids for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an iPhone. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.