Cut the Rope is cute, clever, stylish and one of the best uses of physics to hit the app store. One of Chillingo’s most successful titles, it is a physics-based puzzle game with progressively harder “boxes” for player to immerse themselves in. Your goal is to feed candy to Om Nom, a cute little green critter delivered to you in a cardboard box. There is only one game mode to speak of, but that isn’t a problem with the level of variety here. The game kicks off with a brilliantly animated intro cinematic that drops you straight into the world of Om Nom and his obsession with candy.
As the name of the game implies, there is indeed rope cutting, but that is just one of many mechanics used to challenge you and prevent you from feeding Om Nom. Each box provides its own unique challenges to overcome, from ropes holding the candy to spiked rows and sliders, Wheels for controlling wire length, Electric gates to block your path and blowers to push the candy in a direction, and the newly added gravity element. The game makes use of its abilities well and never tries to rely on a particular trick, meaning that there is always a constant sense of challenge and progression. This stream of new puzzles keeps the experience fresh and has you wanting to come back for more. When things start to feel somewhat repetitive you’re usually on the edge of moving on, but this slight repetitive feeling may push some people onto the later levels of the harder boxes. There is also an enemy to combat, in the form of spiders which lurk at the end of certain ropes. If you get the candy to these ropes then the spiders will slide down towards the candy with intentions of stealing it and thus ending the game immediately. The spiders provide a sense of urgency and force you to act quickly, it keeps things moving at a fast pace and doesn’t make you feel like quitting, because levels only last a few minutes.
Having recently been updated, Cut the Rope now offers up five different boxes, the Cardboard, Fabric, Foil, Gift and Cosmic boxes which are unlocked progressively as you play. Each box contains 25 different levels which step up in difficultly as you move through them. Each level offers you the chance to earn 3 stars; these stars are used to unlock the next box in your quest to fill Om Nom. Apart from stars, there is a scoring system based on how quickly you finish the level , these combined give you a final score and a rating. Ratings give you the chance to compete with others and the stars allow you to move onto the next box as well as providing the same kind of addictive gaming as Angry Birds. The game offers both Game Center and Crystal Networking support with a full collection of achievements and leaderboards with either network; there are currently no Crystal challenges available for Cut the Rope though.
Artistically the game is stunning, everything from the opening intro to the loading screen is finely detail and looks absolutely sublime. Even on older devices the colors pop and the edges show very little in the way of pixels. No part of the game is bland. Throughout the game there is a running theme of a box, the loading screen offer up a craft knife and tape opening and closing a box respectively, rips and tears of material create backgrounds for menus and many things include small details like highlights and shimmers. Each of the five boxes provides a unique scheme for the puzzles, tattered and worn, silver and pristine to something akin to the inside of a circus tent, all realized in vivid textures. None of the backdrops are distracting as to affect the impact of the actual gameplay, but draw enough attention to keep you looking. The soundtrack is both fun, but relaxing and is very much fitting with the game’s style and nature; it is very much a soothing experience in all.
With over 3 million copies of Cut the Rope already sold, odds are that many of you reading this review have already played the game. So I wanted to touch on the recent update which you may not have had a chance to play yet. I’m happy to say that, like the previous version’s boxes, this one introduces an entirely new gameplay mechanic….a button which alters the effect of gravity and other obstacles such as the balloons. Pressing the button activates an anti-gravity effect. This reverses the effect gravity has on something, so for the candy it will fly to the top of the screen apposed to dropping, balloons sink and latching wires swing in an upward arc. This new mechanic adds a mind-bending level of difficulty compared to the previous entries. The new Cosmic box starts of easy, but it is much more difficult to finish than the previous boxes and some levels will most certainly need to be repeated if you are determined enough to get all the stars. In this reviewer’s opinion, the Cosmic Box is the most difficult in the game and I can definitely say that the new feature incorporated adds a lot more depth to an already robust and brilliant set of mechanics.
The Cosmic box sports a chunky metallic theme very much like the inside of a spaceship or a laboratory, it’s cool, funky and unobtrusive. It just works, with it being composed of very few shades, bar one interactive feature. When the gravity button is hit, the background changes and a little round window in the center (akin to the spaceship of Wallace and Gromit) shows a moon spinning around. It’s a neat touch and does remind you which way the gravity is currently pulling the candy. Our little munchkin Om Nom can express himself even more so, with the addition of a few expressions. While they don’t add anything to the gameplay, it does add to the character of the game, which with something this simple helps to carry the action of failure a little more; his big sad eyes will make you feel bad…
Cut the Rope is a brilliant use of the device’s capabilities and really does show off iOS as an original and unique platform. Additional future updates have been promised with new levels and more boxes. Cut the Rope is one of the defining games of the puzzle genre thus far and is a great, light hearted time killer for casual gamers and hardcore puzzle masters alike. It never feels tense or too frustrating like many other puzzle games can, which just allows it to edge ahead, you really can’t go wrong with this game.