Match three puzzle games have flooded the iPhone App Store ever since it was first unveiled, and now we have another one, Kitten Sanctuary to add to the list. It isn’t quite fair to dump Kitten Sanctuary in with all those other match three games, however, as this game does make a huge effort to be different, and actually brings some decent ideas to the table.
Much like the brilliant Heroes of Kalevala, Kitten Sanctuary adds a kind of meta game to give the basic gameplay some extra depth, but instead of building towns and villages, here you have to tend and care for a bunch of super-cute kittens that you rescue in the main stages.
This ‘Sanctuary’ part of Kitten Sanctuary is pretty decent, as you get a lot of toys to play with the kittens, such as a fish on a rope that they will play with, clockwork mice, and a whole bunch of other games. You can also decorate the sanctuary with various items, and buy food and supplies to keep the kittens happy. Now I bet you are thinking that a lot of these items must be purchased via an in-app purchase right? Wrong, there are absolutely no IAP’s in this game whatsoever, and I think that the developer must be congratulated for resisting temptation here. Everything in the game is bought with coins and gems earned through gameplay. This is a breath of fresh air.
The actual match three part of the game is robust and enjoyable, with the main point being that the game allows you to slide pieces diagonally as well as vertically and horizontally, which adds a whole level of tactical depth to the gameplay. There are many power ups available, from simple explosions and mixers to more elaborate things like the super kitten power up that lets you point to an area to be cleared.
There are 100 levels to complete, and some of them are complex and have multiple areas. The layout of the blocks and the way they are constructed is really good, but if you don’t like it there are a few ways that you can change things around. Tile movement can be set to standard, where they fall from the top of the screen when repopulating, or dynamic, where they simply pop into place. There are three difficulty levels, easy, which is great for kids, normal, which adds a time limit and tricky, which adds pesky red squares right off the bat.
It is extremely addictive and great fun, and keeps you coming back for more, and the fact that there are bonus levels that switch the gameplay around adds to the enjoyment.
The game is really enjoyable to play, with some detailed graphics and good special effects, and I didn’t spot any slowdown or issues during my time with the game. The music is extremely catchy and vibrant, and there is even full voice acting in the cut scenes and training levels, adding to the feeling of polish and quality. The game has its own achievements, although I would have liked Game Center integration. The only other real fault is that you can sometimes move pieces diagonally by mistake, due to the small nature of the iPhone screen.
I really enjoyed Kitten Sanctuary, and with so many levels and options, as well as the cool sanctuary meta game to play with, which has no IAP’s whatsoever, this is a game that you will be playing for a long time to come, and this is a universal app, so works perfectly on iPad. The game is completely child friendly with no accidental purchases to make, especially on the time limit free, easy mode. One thing I would like in this regard is the addition of different saves or user profiles, as only having one save is limiting to some.
Kitten Sanctuary comes highly recommended. It may be super cute, but it is also super playable, and with the lack of IAPs, it also represents super value.