Perfect Cell Review

As posted on Videogame Jungle.

When it comes to games on the iPhone and the iPad, there are a number of developers producing some rather high quality titles. Mobigame is one such developer.

Well known for the copyright debacle against Tim Langdell, Mobigame have consistently developed games that I, as well as many others, have loved and adored.

Perfect Cell is no exception. Although my first attempts at their new puzzle-stealth game didn’t impress, once the levels started to get more varied and challenging, I began to see that old flame burn high once again.

Perfect Cell starts with an expository black and white slideshow; In the year 2029 a meteor crashes into the Pacific Ocean. A new organism named “Cell Zero” is found on the meteor, and is taken to a submarine base for research. The cell is hostile and appears to grow larger, and larger until… you guessed it – it escapes.

You are Cell Zero, and you are placed inside a 2.5D environment (a la Mirror’s Edge) that can scroll in all directions.

Mobigame has mastered touch controls and prove it once again. Place your finger anywhere on the screen and drag it around to control the cell, tap to move it more delicately, and swipe to make the cell jump forward, which you will use to break blocked passages or to injure enemies.

When you earn the ability you can split into multiple cells (used for the odd door switch puzzle). Using two fingers to pull the cell apart.  You can’t leave a part of yourself behind and move to the next screen. This makes these puzzles self-contained, and not as hard as it could have been with backtracking to find old cells you left behind. Plus without yourself all together you’re without the draw dash ability, making you as defenceless as a new-born chick, being chased by a rather nimble feline.

Yes the draw dash ability. By holding your finger on the cell for a few seconds, the screen will pull back and you can draw a line in any deformed zigzag you can muster (much like Flight Control). On release your cell will fly like a flash travelling your zigzag to the path’s finish. Like every super power it does have its downside, taking a few moments to regenerate after each use.

The environments are dark, like you would expect from a submarine base. And the game has quite pretty 3D graphics, that even run smoothly on my stodgy old first generation iPhone. The scientists and engineers look a bit cartoony and almost like sprites on the 2.5D plane. Fortunately the military look more sinister.

You can attack all characters in the foreground, yes even those cowering men in lab coats — what a charmer! Normal soldiers are easy to break through, the stronger ones requiring you to swipe from behind or use the draw dash. The big guys you can’t kill at all! These invincible brutes will need to be trapped behind walls.

The military, as well as wall-mounted turrets, will shoot at you (poor misunderstood mutant-cell), draining your life bar with each bullet. Fortunately your health regenerates as soon as you find cover. There are no checkpoints in Perfect Cell. For each level death means a do-over.

Like Trucker’s Delight before it, this isn’t a game for a young audience. While the imagery doesn’t have the same level of gore you’ll find in Gears of War, you can still decapitate and cut in half any unlucky workers.

When you’re not avoiding or destroying enemies you’ll need to guide Mr. Cell through small gaps, avoid security cams, deadly lasers, activate buttons that open doors, move platforms, and break through walls. There’s never a dull moment in the life of a human-destroying organism.

As an iPhone game you’d expect it to support an option to play your own music. Unfortunately this isn’t the case here. Perhaps Mobigame wanted to protect players from missing the moody soundtrack that permeates throughout Perfect Cell? It’s not as interesting and delightful as the music from Edge, but it gets the job done.

Perfect Cell’s 35 zones will keep you engrossed for quite a while, especially the more challenging ones later on. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll… mostly cry. And you cool kids with Game Center support will enjoy achievements and leaderboards to boot.

But Perfect Cell can be played in two ways. There’s killing every human you lay eyes on, or avoiding them entirely. A no-kill bonus on each level awaits those skilled enough, and I applaud the kings and queens of stealth for taking the higher road. Me? I’ll still enjoy slicing off the heads of unsuspecting scientists.

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