If gene splicing, mutating, puzzles, haunting soundtracks, lush graphics, or any combination thereof sound like your idea of a fun game (and face it, playing mad scientist is everybody’s idea of a good time), Splice: Tree of Life is the puzzler for you. Selected as one of PAX10’s Indicade award nominees, Splice is easily one of the most engaging puzzle games available on iPad—reminiscent of both the melodic and logical heights achieved by only a few games like Myst.
How does it work?
Splice encourages you to be half experimenter, half artist. Your world consists of microbial strands that you need to rearrange to match the target structure, indicated by white outlines. You have a limited number of moves to do so, and a variety of options; you can splice by moving part of a strand to another location, or mutate by swiping the special action cells indicated by arrows.
Every action has a reaction, though, so moving one cell can cause other cells to pop out of their designated spot, while mutations must be carefully coordinated to produce just the right number of cells; mutate with the action cell in the wrong spot and you will end up with too many or too few cells to make your target structure. Splicing additional strands onto or removing strands from below action cells changes the number of cells that result from your mutations.
Is it contagious?
Being aware of where your cells are is tricky, but getting lost in the graphically rich petri dish and hauntingly deep piano soundtrack that accompany Splice is all too easy.
The soundtrack could easily accompany a documentary film, and the graphics give you a Magic Schoolbus-esque feeling of floating in some liquid observing microbes up close and personal. While Splice is a bit short on instruction, the moves are not hard to figure out: tap and drag to splice, swipe out of the circle to mutate.
Splice: Tree of Life will easily keep you engaged for hours as you build perfect microbes based on the target structure blueprints—just make sure you have some high quality headphones to enjoy the soundtrack while you do it.