Every once in a while, a mobile game comes along that delivers quality and value consistent with a full-price handheld console release. A game that offers an experience that wouldn't feel out of place on the DS with a premium price tag... but costs next to nothing.
SQUIDS is one of those games.
At its core, SQUIDS is a turn-based SRPG that tasks players will commanding a crack team of squishy nautiloids. Throughout the meaty campaign, you'll lead your invertebrate warriers through a varied selection of straight-up brawls, exploration and defence objectives, which constantly unlocks a stream of currency to spend on unit upgrades, gear and new characters.
However, movement and combat is more akin to Angry Birds than Final Fantasy Tactics. Each unit can move a certain distance before their turn is over - which you'll accomplish by dragging their squelchy bodies away from the direction in which you want them to go... and then letting go. Much like the Angry Birds catapult, except with furious squid. Colliding with an enemy deals direct damage, and savvy players can use momentum to smash foes out of the stage or into spiky hazards.
It's like a bizarre mash-up of pool and Syndicate - and pulling off trick shots are just as important as a clear head for strategy.
Each class has a specific ability to help them in battle. Scouts can ram enemies for extra momentum and pace, healers can restore HP on contact, tanks can pound the ground for radial damage and shooters can...well... they can shoot stuff. Despite being instantly accessible, there's a wealth of strategic options and depth on offer that rewards speedy completion times and exploration.
As mentioned, you can spend your hard-earned virtual cash on upgrades and headgear - each of which is modelled onto the Squid in question. Replaying levels for extra items and levelling up your team is a seriously compulsive affair.
And yes, there are some IAPs. Which you absolutely don't need to buy unless you're particularly impatient. Even if you do blow a couple of quid, it's still an utter bargain for what you're getting here.
Finally, SQUIDS displays a level of competency and polish that rivals most mainstream handheld titles. Crisp graphics and a colourful art style make it stand out from the App Store rank and file - but note that it's primarily designed for the iPhone rather than its big tablet brother.
Frankly, I'd have paid top dollar for SQUIDS on the DS or 3DS eShop.
- Accessible and deep gameplay
- Eyecatching visuals
- Amazing value
- My 3DS is gathering dust
Summary: SQUIDS provides all of the fun, polish and strategic edge that you'd expect from a full handheld release... for 69p. Just buy it already.
Developer: The Game Bakers
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
Price: £0.69 - App Store