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Split Indie Game Preview

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Itsfine Games for the review copy of Split used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to preview, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this preview. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this preview.

Overview

In Split you play as a cube that is trying to reach the exit door. Your cube has the ability to split into smaller cubes which allows you to control several cubes at the same time. You use this splitting ability in order to create more cubes that are then used to activate switches which open up the path to the exit door.

Being an early access game, Split currently has some of its’ final features while others are still in development. The basic gameplay mechanics seem to be in place and the game has sixteen different puzzles to explore at this time. In the future the developers are planning on adding a level editor where players can create their own puzzles and share them with other players.

Pros

There are quite a few puzzle games on Steam where you control a cube/block that is used to activate switches/buttons and open up the path to the exit. The one thing that makes Split interesting and different from these other games is the ability to split your cube. This is what first got me interested about the game and is what I liked most about Split.

The puzzles in the game do a good job utilizing the splitting mechanic. While the game doesn’t have a lot of puzzles at this time, the puzzles are pretty clever. Most of them aren’t too difficult but they do a good job showing how the splitting mechanic can create some interesting puzzles. To solve the puzzles you need to think outside the box in order to figure out how to manipulate the cubes in order to activate all of the necessary buttons in the stage. Some of the puzzles are designed in a way that you really need to think ahead before starting the puzzle or you will get stuck in a situation where you can’t finish it. The game has a handy reset button though so you can go back and address the puzzle in a different way. If you want to 100% the level, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to get all of the parts of the cube to the exit door.

Another positive about the puzzles is that they are actually quite different. Each puzzle comes up with a unique way to use the splitting mechanic and slowly adds new mechanics to the game. The levels don’t feel repetitive. The levels do a good job showing what other players may be able to do with the level editor in the future.

Good puzzle games create engaging and interesting puzzles while letting players focus on the puzzles instead of wasting time on figuring out the mechanics. This is true for Split. The gameplay is simple since you are just moving cubes around the world. One mouse button selects cubes while the other mouse button tells the cube where to move to. There are also some controls to position the camera.

For a game that has you controlling cubes, you would think that the graphics would be an afterthought. I actually really like the graphical style of Split though. The game relies a lot on simple shapes/minimalist style but does a great job creating interesting environments for the puzzles. The graphics could have been an afterthought since the puzzles are the key element of the game but care was put into the graphical style of the game. Split is one of the better looking puzzle games that I have ever played.

Cons

The biggest problem I have with the game is with the camera. The camera controls are simple and work well some of the time. The problems arise on some of the puzzles where it is hard to position the camera in a way where it is easy to see what you are doing. With some work you can usually get the camera into a position that is good enough but you would still prefer a better camera angle. On some of the larger puzzles it gets a little hard to see some of the smaller cube sections. I think the game could use some more options/controls to help re-position the camera in some situations.

While I like most of the puzzles, I really don’t like the timed switch in the game. The idea of a timed switch is not a bad idea but I don’t think the included puzzles give you enough time to complete your next objective before the timed switch goes off. In at least two of the puzzles you need close to perfect timing in order to complete the puzzle. This wouldn’t be such a problem except that if you don’t have the perfect timing you have to restart the puzzle from the beginning because the timed switch makes it impossible to finish the level. The reason I don’t really like the quick timers is that puzzle games are usually meant to be relaxing and rely more on you figuring out a puzzle than your timing and completing actions in a given amount of time. I figured out how to do these puzzles quickly but had to repeat them quite a few times just because I couldn’t get the timing down right.

What doesn’t help the timed switches is that the game has the occasional glitch. You will click for a cube to move and occasionally the cube won’t move to where you have clicked. This isn’t much of an issue when the puzzles aren’t timed but it gets kind of frustrating when you have to restart a puzzle because a cube didn’t go where you told it to go. Occasionally the cubes randomly get destroyed as well. Some pieces would fall off platforms and get destroyed. Since you can always restart the puzzle this isn’t a huge issue but it sucks to restart a puzzle that you are about to finish because of a glitch.

The final complaint I have with the game just has to deal with the number of puzzles in the game. I thought the puzzles were well designed so it is a little disappointing that there aren’t many of them. At this stage the game only has 16 puzzles which you can get through pretty quickly. The developers plan on adding four more puzzles to the final game leading to a total of 20 puzzles in the game. With how well some of the puzzles are designed I wish there would be more developer designed puzzles in the final version of the game.

Bang For Your Buck

The value proposition for early access games is always kind of hard to figure out since the game is not yet finished so you can’t judge how the final product will turn out.

At this stage the game only includes 16 puzzles which takes around three hours or so to complete.It may take more time if you can’t get the timing down on the final puzzles or you try to 100% every puzzle. Trying to complete the level with all of the parts of your cube can be somewhat challenging, but otherwise the game is a little on the easy side (outside the timing) which should allow you to finish the levels pretty quickly. The final game is supposed to have around 20 puzzles so I would guess the game would take around four hours to complete when it is finished.

The real length will come from the community levels made by other players using the level editor. The level editor is not yet included with the game so I can’t really tell how easy it will be to use or how many community levels will be made. If the community grows and a lot of levels get created, the game could have a lot of gameplay potential. If the community doesn’t make a lot of levels, the levels that come with the game are good but won’t last that long.

At $10 the value you get out of the game will depend on how well the community grows. You should enjoy the three to four hours of gameplay that comes included with the game. The real value will come from community created levels though. If a bunch of creative puzzles are created for the game, Split could easily be worth the money. If not you will need to judge whether a three to four hour game is worth $10.

Final Verdict

At this stage in early access, Split is in good shape. The game is fun and comes with some fun/creative puzzles. The controls work pretty well even though there is the occasional glitch that forces you to restart a level. My biggest problem with the game is the camera which is hard to control at times. I was also not a big fan of the timed switches in the game because I don’t think they give you enough time. The game is also kind of short since it only has sixteen puzzles. The real length of the game will come down to how successful the level editor becomes. I would say that Split is a good game that has the potential to be a great game as it is further developed.

If you don’t like puzzle games, you probably won’t like Split. If you like puzzle games and the idea of splitting a cube into pieces in order to solve puzzles sounds interesting to you, you should like Split. With the game being kind of on the short side, if you are a price conscious buyer you may want to wait to see how the level editor develops before purchasing.

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