The App Store seems to be obsessed with rope, or at least with ways of destroying it. We've cut it, burned it and definitely paid good money for old rope from time to time.
Rope Rescue, however, puts the emphasis on keeping your thread intact by making it a powerful and unique gameplay mechanic. It's one of the most refreshing puzzlers I've played in some time.
Players control a heroic bird who's on a quest to free his imprisoned friends from a selection of nefarious mechanical cages. To do so, he'll need to connect a number of gears together with a length of rope to form pulleys and a mechanism to eventually open the door. Intuitive one-finger dragging controls make unwinding and carrying the rope an absolute cinch, and the aim of the game is to connect all of the cogs with the cage using as short as length of twine as possible.
As you'd expect, finding the most efficient route between the gears, wheels and cage is the order of the day, and is a surprisingly devious premise that lends itself to multiple attempts and high score runs.
Like the best puzzlers, things just quite that easy. Rope Rescue soon introduces plenty of hazards such as fireballs, knives, vampire bats (who are scared of rope, helpfully) and moving cogs, which make fast and deliberate reflexes just as important as wrapping your head around the puzzle solutions. It's a great middle ground between action and brainpower.
The experience does become slightly repetitive after a while, and a few timed end of world challenges don't really provide anything beyond a frustrating and stressful change of pace. It's a shame that the rope mechanic couldn't have been used in some traditional boss fights or for more imaginative set pieces, but the sixty levels still provide a decent amount of variety and value.
If you're stumped, you can collect and deploy butterflies that allow you to skip particularly difficult levels. These handy items tend to be stashed away in incredibly inaccessible areas and need a seriously steady hand to collect, but of course, you can also buy them as IAPs. If you really want to.
Unlocked birds congregate in your sanctuary, which is essentially just a little animated gallery that displays your feathered friends frolicking around. It's a basic and forgettable feature, but it's undeniably also a charming and considerate touch that didn't have to make an appearance. We love little details like this.
Graphics-wise, Rope Rescue looks great thanks to (as usual) a colourful and charming art style. The standard resolution version does the business on the iPhone, but iPad owners will probably want to plump for the crisper universal HD app.
- Unique and rewarding puzzle mechanics
- Addictive and easy to learn
- Charming visuals
- Good value
- Can become repetitive
- A few aggravating puzzles
Summary: Rope Rescue is a unique, cerebral and weighty little puzzler that will tide you over for several hours. Excellent physics and eyecatching graphics make for a seriously impressive proposition.
Compatibility (both versions): Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1 or later.