Spirits for the iPad is an innovative puzzle game with stunning visuals and lovely ambient music that results in a relaxed, calming gameplay experience unlike anything else you’ve seen in the App Store.
The goal in Spirits is to guide the little spirit characters towards their swirly end destination, using the spirits themselves as various tools, in order to save as many as possible. The concept is similar to what you may have seen in games such as World of Goo and Lemmings.
At the beginning of each level, spirits begin to spawn from piles of leaves, and they must be guided towards the mysterious swirl in the sky. There are often obstacles to overcome to get there, such as walls, spikes, and unwanted wind. To get past these blockages, you use the spirits themselves. When you tap on a spirit, you choose one of four actions for the spirit to take: wind manipulation (both creating and blocking), tunnel digging, or bridge building.
Each level requires some combination of these four actions to get past barriers, and not all abilities are available for every level. You must work with what you’re given and figure out the best strategy, which can be tricky because the spirits are continually walking forward. Often, you have to figure out a bypass quickly before groups of spirits impale themselves on spikes and disappear in a puff of ethereal smoke. The other goal during the game is to collect all of the plants on a given level, which you do by having your spirits walk over them. Plants are not generally located on the beaten path, and collecting them usually requires routing your spirits in even more complex ways. There is never just one solution to be had, but the game does tell you whether or not you’ve solved a puzzle in the most optimal way.
While the gameplay is undeniably difficult, it never becomes frustrating, thanks to the gorgeous hand-drawn graphics, soothing music, and the ease of restarting a level. It takes just two taps to restart and implement new changes. You can also pause to inspect the entire level and to assign spirits to various jobs. If you get completely stuck, there’s an option to choose a level in the main menu, and you’re able to select a level up to three levels beyond what you’ve currently finished.
There are no achievements to be had here, but there is a running tally of how many spirits and plants you’ve collected, as well as an overall world ranking. With 40 levels, there is a lot of content available, not to mention the extra time you will spend trying to max out your collections.
What I liked: The soft coloring and whimsical little spirits floating on the wind were just plain fun to play with, even when I was restarting a level for the 10th time.
What I didn’t like: The gameplay can be a little slow at times, waiting for spirits to turn around and walk a certain way. I would have liked a fast forward button, but this may have detracted from the relaxed feel of the game so I can understand why it wasn’t included.
To buy or not to buy: If you’re a fan of World of Goo or Osmos, I think you’ll find this game to be a great investment. The puzzles are clever and the game itself is has a unique atmosphere.
- App Name: Spirits for iPad
- Version Reviewed: 1.0.3
- Category: Games
- Developer: Mattias Ljungstrom
- Price: $4.99, free for a limited time.
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