What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Splice is a puzzle game with a vaguely science-y theme and no controversial content. However, this doesn't mean that it's appropriate for all ages. The puzzles -- which involve reorganizing cells into specific patterns -- can be extremely challenging, and no tutorial is offered. There is a good chance it will leave younger players -- and perhaps many older ones, too -- fairly frustrated.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- analyzing evidence
- solving puzzles
Engagement, Approach, Support
It's hard not to appreciate the game's beautiful design. Kids will quickly realize Everything -- even the menus -- exists in a single microscopic world, with previous puzzles floating in a murky, blurred background.
Splice has a theme rooted in biology and delivers some fun puzzles, but it doesn’t actually teach players anything about living cells other than that they can reproduce and transform.
The rules can be very difficult to discern. There's a good chance gamers will end up solving many of the puzzles by pure luck after a lot of random clicks rather than through skill. Some tutorials would have been nice.
What's it about?
SPLICE is a puzzle game in which players attempt to manipulate groups of cells into specific patterns based on an evolving set of game rules in a limited number of moves. Groups of cells reconfigure themselves in specific ways when you click on them. Players need to learn the logic that governs how and why they do what they do (or simply rely on the blind luck of trial-and-error play) in order to solve each puzzle in the allotted number of moves. What's more, cells identified by special markings have specific abilities that players must work out on their own. Some might split themselves and any strands below them into two strands, while others may copy themselves by spurting out an extra cell directly below them. The entire experience is set inside a single microscopic environment, with the nebulous narrative appearing to document the evolution of cellular structures. The cell's growth corresponds to the puzzle's difficulty.
Is it any good?
Despite its simple point-and-click interface, Splice is one of the more challenging puzzle games you're likely to encounter. The rules that the cells follow can be very difficult to discern (a series of tutorials would have gone a long way toward eliminating this problem), and once you have them figured out, they can be hard to apply in your imagination as you try to predict what will happen more than one or two moves in advance. There's a good chance you'll end up solving many of the puzzles by pure luck after a lot of random clicks rather than through skill. That said, those who cue to the game’s thorny logic could find some deep satisfaction in these visual conundrums.
Regardless, it's impossible not to appreciate the game's beautiful design. Everything -- even the game menus -- exists in a single microscopic world, with previous puzzles floating in a murky, blurred background. It's a quirky and ingenious bit of presentation that’s sure to prove memorable, even if the puzzles aren't.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about using reason to solve problems. Do you experience a sense of satisfaction upon working out a problem that requires brains over brawn? What sorts of real-world conundrums have you solved simply by thinking about them?
They can also talk about playing puzzle games. Is this one of your favorite genres? If so, why?