Splash Damage (iOS) Review
Title: Splash Damage
Developer: HashStash Studios
Platform(s): iPhone, iPad
Genre: Arcade, platforming
Released: 25 January, 2015
Splash Damage, on the outset, is a simple game. It is easy to pick up, works like a charm, is fast paced and is kind of mindless in the action it provides. But deep down, it is evident the amount of work put in by the developers, India based HashStash Studios, to mask the sheer algorithms in getting the game to work and be as fun as it is. This, is not an easy game to master.
You, or precisely, the blob with the side eyeing expressions that you control, have one task i.e. to stay alive by juggling between platforms. That is the simple part of Splash Damage. The complexity comes in when you realise the means to stay and jump between vertically moving platforms isn’t as straight forward as you expected it to be. Platforms entering the screen come with a “blue liquid” that increase your weight, and make you heavier to manoeuvre yourself. As they move upwards, they shed the liquid and then splash themselves onto a red lava kind of liquid, which makes you lighter and thus, easier to move around.
That is the basic gist of the game. Your blob, apart from staying alive, must manage its weight so that staying alive is easier. Consume too much blue liquid and you’ll be dashing down like a free falling wrecking ball. Take too much red and you’ll float up only to be consumed by the red liquid. The colour of your blob signifies your weight, dark means heavy and light means, well, light.
When I began playing the game initially, I was overwhelmed by the challenge. It does get frustrating at times, keeping alive isn’t easy. But Splash Damage is an immensely replayable game, thanks to the seamless starts to new games immediately when you die, without requiring any feedback whatsoever.
The graphics reminded me of Super Meat Boy, a cool twist of pixel styling. Something like a monochromatic mashup between Minecraft and Hotline: Miami. The soundtrack is a gleaming aspect of the game too, as noted from the developers, it is composed entirely by writing notesand frequency, “like how you used to write ringtones in old Nokia phones.” The longer you stay alive, the more interesting the background score gets.
The liquid physics, possibly the core mechanic of the game, work beautifully. Your blob, the platforms, the liquid, when working in tandem together construct a fun, fast paced and challenging experience. Splash Damage has that quality in it, where it frustrates you and gets on your nerves, but it never lefts you feeling burnt out. Probably because this is a difficult game to master and ‘getting it right’ might just be the only thing on your mind once you’ve got your hands on this game.
What separates the great games from the good games? There’s an aspect of making a game feel fun to play but difficult to pin down when trying to describe it, and even more difficult for a developer to create. Splash Damage has those qualities, although it is not perfect. I sometimes felt that power ups like the Shield (which shields you from absorbing liquid) and “Weight Reset” hinder the flowability rather than enhance it. So I thought it best to always avoid them. The game also might be a tad too challenging for some. Some might also be irked by the fact that the game costs INR 120 on the App Store.
The game was reviewed on the iPhone 5S and iPad Air.