One of the immutable laws of the App Store is that when a new casual game reaches the charts, imitators will appear like mushrooms. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I appreciate new genre mash-ups like this one. Let's say you put a line-drawing game such as Flight Control, add the darkness and rhythm from Splinter Cell and combine it to make a puzzle game... It might sound quite odd, but the product is an innovative concept from Mobigame, the creators of Edge.
Perfect Cell [iTunes Link] takes you to the depths of a submarine laboratory where scientists keep the most perfect living specimen known to man. You control the creature, a floating octopus-looking alien trying to escape from the lab when a terrorist group takes over the place. With no other explanation, every area will be inundated with armed men, security systems and labyrinths that will force your perfect cell to be perfectly gore. This living organism hasn't got all the attention for nothing: in addition to floating, your cell can remain invisible, split in three independent blobs and move at a speed that will destroy anything on its way. Apparently, it's also very aggressive and is looking for a escape.
Navigating thought the lab avoiding armed men, CCTV cameras, lasers and traps will require perfect planned moves. The use of flicks and drawing gestures is the only option but it won't disappoint. Since you'll need to stop to think about your strategy to solve every minipuzzle, the control scheme is a perfect fit. The levels are designed with a 2.5D view which adds a polished visual touch to an otherwise plain and predictable environment. Backgrounds and enemies are flat and look particularly old-school. Is this part of the fun? I like it. Some animations are so retro that they'll take you to the arcade times of Metal Slug.
As you advance through the game, you learn more advanced moves and encounter new types of traps and stronger enemies. However, your loneliness in an alien planet is evident to you, as you don't have any instructions or any order other than your own common sense. And this is probably the most appealing part of this game. Will an advanced life form be pacifist and avoid violence? Will it distinguish from good and evil? Would it just kill anything on sight? Choosing the bloody path is probably faster and more entertaining option. Dash over the armed troops to spread limbs and blood all over the place. Enemies looking out for you will freak out when they see body parts of their colleagues arrive at their feet.
Despite the cell's innate perfection, it is vulnerable to bullets and lasers. Unlike Mirror's Edge, exhaust gases won't hurt out tentacle friend. When you are hit, you will gradually lose your ability to float, slow down and, unable to hide, die. And for the longer levels, this means you will have to go back to the beginning and start all over again. No checkpoints available, although there are plenty of quiet rooms and switches that could be used for that.
Perfect Cell mixes several genres aiming to cater for mobile users who want a quick fix. The player has the option to choose the pace of the game: from a frenetic slayer to a stealth spy. But this is no Cut the Rope. Some levels are quite intricate and the absence of checkpoints will make you go through some more than a couple of times. This is not funny at all and might turn off some gamers used to these perks. I don't see how anyone could get stuck and now finish the game, after all you are a perfect killer, but think that completing every level should not take you more than four hours.
The little information found in Game Center achievements gives more importance to kills than to peaceful gaming, however, once you have finished the game, you might want to attempt a second round without killing any human. And please don't kill those scientists. They are always the first victims on video games.
Perfect Cell is well-suited for those looking for a slow-paced action game that makes you think and release some adrenaline. You are in control of everything, but when things don't go according to plan and you don't find cover, it can get messy. The game could get further polish and functionality, such as in-app Game Center leader boards and achievements, expansion levels and please, some checkpoints. It does have some replay value if you are the kind of person that goes back to Angry Birds and beat your previous score.
If you are an app freak like me who is sold when something looks good, this is an easy choice. As a medium priced app, it shows developers have put more than a little effort into it, delivers more than your average $0.99/59p casual game and being Universal, it works on all your devices.