Splice

Splice Review

Has the genetic structure of puzzle games devolved or mutated?

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PlayStation 4 on

Splice is Cross-Buy with PlayStation 3

ESRB Everyone rating

When it comes to puzzle games, you would think that it's all been said and done, yet here comes Splice. With a very clever premise and deceptively simplistic gameplay, you'll want to stare into this microscope until you unravel every single cellular mystery.

Splice screenshot 1
Puzzles sure start out simple enough...

Once you start Splice, you're immediately introduced to its uniquely immersive atmosphere. The puzzles (referred to as strands) appear as if you're watching an educational film in science class with their slowly moving cellular segments and colourful submerged backgrounds. The entire user interface is presented in a sterilized fashion as if it's from an actual laboratory. That being said, it may be difficult to initially get a grasp of how to navigate and play but it'll become clear as you experiment. In other words, your hand will not be held. Musically, you'll delight in the down-tempo piano melodies that seem to never end while they add a great deal of ambience to the mysterious atmosphere. The sound effects consist of immersed low-frequency gurgles which help to create a more authentic audio experience. Overall, Splice is masterfully presented with a consistent level of both peculiarity and wonderment.

The puzzles are solved by selecting magnetically opposed strand segments to move (AKA splice) in order to saturate the outlined area. When you pick up a segment, all of the attached segments come with it. Initially you can only move the segments to other parts of the strand, but later on you can simply detach unneeded segments. Considering each puzzle only allows you to use a certain number of splices and each segment can only have up to two branches, you must use strategy with every single move that you make. As you progress, you uncover an array of special segments that you can activate by pushing a button. These have effects such as extending, splitting, or destroying the segment strand. Splice does a fantastic job of pacing so you rarely feel overwhelmed. However, you may be confused when new mechanics are introduced because of the minimalist approach to explanation. For example, when the game introduced the element of detaching segments, I had to play around for a few minutes to find out what I was supposed to do.

Splice screenshot 2
...but don't hang your lab coat up just yet!

As you become more efficient and are able to solve more complex strands, you'll look back and be surprised by how much your abilities have grown since you started playing. The later puzzles can get extremely complex and may take you a while to experiment and eventually solve, but the steady learning curve definitely provides you with enough of a base to be able to complete the entire game on your own. Some puzzles reward you for completing them in under the allotted amount of moves and it's always a gratifying event whenever you manage to do so. If you ever regret making a move then you can rewind to the previous state by the tap of a button. Also, if you regret rewinding then you can even fast-forward to undo that. Solving puzzles may be difficult but the gameplay is always in your favour with its intuitive controls and forgiving mechanics.

Although Splice may be an incredibly unique and intriguing puzzler, it suffers from a lack of content. There are only 77 puzzles that can be completed within a few seconds to a few minutes each. Besides completing the puzzles and getting all of the rewards for solving specific strands in under the allotted moves, there is nothing else to do. Therefore, you'll probably spend a couple of hours with Splice then be satisfied enough to never play it again. Personally, this makes me quite disappointed since Splice has a lot of potential to be a must-download game. Because it's such a short experience, I can only recommend it to gamers who desperately want to have a unique puzzler in their collection and don't mind the fact that they'll be completely done within such a brief time period.

Splice screenshot 3
The epilogue sequences will make you feel like a genius for finishing them

Splice is a truly unique puzzler that will have you hooked from start to finish. Although you may get frustrated at times, you'll still end up feeling like a genius for mastering every single strand. It's too bad you'll be finished with it before you can say "deoxyribonucleic acid".

  • + Simple and unique puzzle mechanics evolve into complex and rewarding scenarios
  • + Well done immersive atmosphere
  • + Steadily implemented learning curve
  • - Only consists of 77 short puzzles
  • - Almost no replay value
  • - With little instructions, you may get confused when new mechanics are introduced
6.5 out of 10
Gameplay video for Splice 2:25

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