Spiral Splatter Review – Xbox One

As titles go, Spiral Splatter seems to be pretty much up there in terms of ambiguity. While on the surface it may seem a little vague, and doesn’t do much to give away the nature of the experience offered within, it is in fact a pretty apt summary of the game. Controlling a small white dot, players are tasked with making their way through various patterns (such as spirals!), avoiding walls and obstacles (otherwise you splatter!) with the aim of reaching a nondescript target. Like most successful puzzle games, it’s a fairly simple premise at first glance, but ends up being one that offers plenty of variety, and a surprising amount of depth.

Spiral Splatter plays most like the steady hand games that you’ll find at fairgrounds and midways, the kind that let off a buzzing noise if your wire loop hits the track that you’re trying to navigate. In the case of Spiral Splatter, though, you’re often inside the track, with walls on either side. The premise, however, remains the same, keep your hands steady, and use hand-eye coordination to guide your dot from point-A to point-B. It sounds easy, and to start with it is, but as you make your way through the eleven different stages on offer, you’ll soon start to curse your fingers (or controller) for betraying you and causing you to fail a level.

The eleven stages are broken down into ten levels each, with each stage introducing a new mechanic, or requiring you to play the game in a particular way. Obstacles include gates, pistons and moving objects, and some stages task you with racing against another dot, or needing to use the speed function merely to complete the level. You’re granted stars for each level, depending on how quickly you finished it, and each stage is gated, requiring a certain number of stars to access. This gating is generally pretty generous, and I only had to backtrack through levels once, around stage five, to get enough stars to open up the next chapter. After this I was comfortable enough with the mechanics to make it through each stage one after the other, though I put this partly down to luck, and other players might need to go back a little more often to top up their star count.

Each level within a stage will only take a matter of seconds to complete successfully, but that doesn’t mean that Spiral Splatter won’t take away hours of your life if you’re not careful. Thanks to a speedy loading system, a lack of real fail states, and a well-managed difficulty curve, it’s incredibly easy to keep playing through Spiral Splatter, even if certain levels do start to become sticking points where frustrations begin to mount. There’s enough variety within the different stages to keep the experience feeling fresh, however, meaning that if you’re not having much fun with a particular task, it will either be over and done with soon, or you’ll already have enough stars to skip this particular section and move onto the next stage.

With over 100 levels in total, Spiral Splatter offers a fair deal of content for a puzzle game, but I still found that I completed it (in terms of finishing all of the stages – I got two or three stars on most) in a couple of days. This isn’t like the ever-persistent match-3 mobile games, in terms of it having a finite end, but if you pace yourself, or really want to get every star, then Spiral Splatter will likely last you a little longer that first impressions may imply. You’ll certainly notice your hand-eye coordination improve through the course of the game too: on the occasions where I went back to levels that had previously given me trouble, I notice a clear increase in my ability to keep the dot within the lines and started to avoid obstacles much quicker than I had before.

Though Spiral Splatter does base itself around a simple premise, it feels surprisingly unique, and keeps up an impressively varied experience throughout its runtime. There’s no filler here either, you boot up the game, enter into a puzzle, and play until you’re done. With speedy loading times, no attempt at a narrative to distract you, and the most basic of color palettes, this a puzzle game at it’s purest form, and it’s all the better for it. If you’re looking for a console-based brain teaser, then you could do a lot worse than trying out Spiral Splatter, and who knows, with the improvement to your hand-eye coordination that the game will likely provide, you might come away from this experience a better overall gamer than when you started.

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