When I first saw the screen shots for iSlice I thought it looked kind of like a bizarre Qix clone. The reality is that iSlice is more like a Qix evolution, and honestly I find the game a lot more fun. It definitely gets frustrating at times, but in the end there’s a great feeling of satisfaction for completing each level, especially if you can solve it in the required number of slices to get a gold medal. Of course, there are times where you’re just happy to complete a level. Either way it’s both challenging and entertaining, and it has a nice audio / visual presence as well.
The premise behind the game is simple. Each board is a shape, and you have to cut away at that shape by drawing a line from one edge of the shape to another. A successfully drawn line will cause part of the shape to fall away, and when enough of the shape is gone you’ve beaten the level. The trick is that each board has a number of balls bouncing around in it, and you can only get rid of parts of the shape that don’t contain any balls. If both sections of the divided shape have balls in them then nothing changes. If a ball hits the line while you’re drawing it, the shape will be completely restored and you’ll have to start over again. To add to the challenge, some of the shapes have partially white boarders. You can’t draw a line through the white boarders, so you have to go around them. In order to complete a level you must remove a certain percentage of the board. Thankfully there’s no time limit, so try to plan your moves wisely.
Controlling the game is simple. Touch the screen where you want to start the line, then drag to where you want the line to end and release. If the line is successful you’ll see one of the two sections fall away. If both sections have balls in them you’ll hear a distinct noise and nothing happens. The levels are extremely well designed, though I’m not sure the difficulty is balanced very well. It seems like I’ll often get a really difficult level followed by a level I can beat on the first try. It would also be nice if they had a “beginner” level where you didn’t have to remove such a high percentage of the level in order to win. On the plus side, if you do complete the levels there are three different medals you can earn, so if you have the patience there’s plenty of replayability as you try to get the gold medal on each level. It appears you can only retry a level until you decide to move on to the next one, however, so to add to the replay factor a level select screen would be awesome.
I love the visual style in iSlice. The background elements are a mixture of what look like cardboard cutouts and counter cross-stitched objects, and the playing field mimics the cross-stitch style. The playing field is also a recognizable object that fits with the theme of the background. There’s even a nifty little life saying written on each of the objects. The sound effects are simple but fitting. A snip sound means you’ve successfully sliced the object, a light tapping means it didn’t work, and a thump indicates you’ve hit a wall. The endearing sound of shattered glass says that your line has been shattered by a ball. The music has a bit of a bluegrass edge to it, and at first makes you feel like you’re in a Countrytime lemonade commercial.
I’m pretty impressed with iSlice. Technically the game is simple to play, yet there’s no question that it provides a nice challenge. The levels are beatable without getting too agitating (most of the time), and you always feel good about completing one. The visuals are slick and the music is good, though it would be nice to have more than one song. If you’re looking for the next challenging casual game, this just might be it.