Let’s be honest, the App Store isn’t exactly bereft of puzzle games these days. The simple user interface normally required for the genre translates well to the iOS touch screen, whilst the gameplay itself is perfect for quick bouts on the way to work. It takes something interesting to stand out in this crowded market, and it seems Cell Bound has hit the nail on the head.
Rather than columns, bricks or blocks, Cell Bound puts you in control of a Petri dish (the little dish used to culture cells). Now these aren’t normally associated with any sort of drama, but as soon as the round starts your Petri dish is bombarded by contaminated, different coloured cells.
To stop the cells from taking over you have to spin the Petri dish around, catching cells of the same colour. Once you have linked five or more of the same colour they will burst and disappear, giving you points. Simple? Not really, because things get very hectic.
Straight away you can tell that Cell Bound has been successful in the number one rule when creating a puzzle game; it’s a simple idea that’s incredibly addictive. Rounds start off slowly, lulling you into a false sense of security, making you believe you’re a cell-busting super scientist. Then cells will start hitting your Petri dish that you didn’t even see coming, and before you know it you’re having to spin it like a world class DJ in the middle of a set.
There are three modes in Cell Bound. Infinite Mode is where you will be spending most of the time, with the objective of clearing as many cells as possible and building up a high score. Earning points will also gain you access to the use of smart bombs, which will clear the screen.
Timer Mode gives you one and a half minutes to score as many points as possible. There are no smart bombs, and for every 1,200 points you score you get one additional second on the timer.
Burst Mode is maddening, but in a good way. Cells come at your Petri dish as normal, but if you accidently connect two different coloured cells they will turn black and form a barrier, obstructing new cells from being linked together. This mode gets extremely tense because all it takes is a slight over-rotation and suddenly you’re faced with a row of black cells.
Another positive is the presentation. Whilst simplistic, there is a feeling of quality about everything and some nice lighting effects from the cells.
If I had to pick something negative, I found the Petri dish spins around a little too fast for my liking. This shows more in Burst Mode where you are penalised for any error in judgement.
- Interesting idea.
- Nicely presented.
- Simple gameplay, done well.
- The Petri dish spin can be a bit too sensitive at times.
I really enjoyed playing Cell Bound. Whilst it won’t set the rest of the gaming world alight it will certainly impress those who enjoy sitting down for a quick blast to try and best their high scores. Very good stuff indeed.