Play enough iOS games published by Chillingo and a pattern emerges. In most releases the single-player campaign is split into different worlds which in turn comprise of anywhere between ten or twenty levels. These levels can be completed with varying degrees of success; although they can be simply passed, there are usually added collectables or objectives (which, of course, always come in threes) to encourage replaying levels and improving a previous run.
The formulaic blue-print is by no means a bad thing, it is a tried and tested base to build around, producing games that make bus rides or a number two more entertaining. It does though mean games inevitably feel similar, the experience of a new purchase can often be likened to a title or two already in your library.
Similarity can often dampen the enjoyment of a game that, by itself, is a great little purchase. This certainly makes things harder for Chillingo games as they have to go that little bit extra to really stand out and make an impact. Developers Atom-Soft do just this with their sticky-puzzler Cling Thing, a well executed and perfectly balanced puzzle game that doesn’t have any new tricks up its sleeve but can perform well known tricks very well.
Cling Thing challenges players to simply navigate across levels using the orb’s ability to, as the title of the game would suggest, cling on to things. What starts out as a very simple concept quickly evolves into a clever and tricky puzzler when double and triple clinging is introduced and combined with the physics engine and obstacles. As new gameplay elements are introduced so does the challenge gradually increase; it is a very well done difficulty curve demonstrated by replaying earlier levels later on in the game to increase the completion rate – you really do notice your skills have improved as collecting all the stars becomes a breeze.
Some of the later levels, which require not only thought about the location of clinging but also the timing of it, are genuinely satisfying to beat. Difficult ones can take many tries, so finishing it with all stars collected is a great achievement. There is also a time rating of Bronze, Silver and Gold but this is only available when all stars are collected meaning very few levels will be achieved with a gold rating.
Visually ClingThing has neither the graphical prowess of Infinity Blade or the beautiful art style of Rayman: Jungle Run but for a little puzzler they do just fine. The character orbs and backgrounds are sharp and vibrant and the music provides a nice enough calm background for the relatively slow-paced puzzle game.
Cling Thing isn’t without its faults though. Playing on an iPhone can feel a bit inhibited at times, the small screen makes it hard for precision aims and holding the phone makes multi-clinging more awkward than it should be. At the time of writing there is also a pretty game-ruining bug where unlocking the last world breaks the game – it simply does not allow the selection of a world to play (note, this was review on an iPhone 4. Newer models may not have the problem).
As stated at the top of this view, many games published by Chillingo are very similar and Cling Thing is no different. It does however provide enough quality to stand out from the crowd. The puzzling is as well executed as it is addictive and there are enough levels to keep the player satisfied for hours. It is just a shame the final level is unplayable.