There is nothing wrong with simplicity in games. We have reviewed many mobile games here at The Smartphone App Review, and we have applauded those games that offer simple yet innovative gameplay that manages to create depth through the pure joy of being played.
Unfortunately, Sheep Impact for Android is not a joy to play, meaning the simplicity makes you focus on the frustration here.
You take control of a hot air balloon tasked with the job of saving various sheep from all kinds of horrible deaths. The sheep are tied up and attached to a variety of death dealing devices, which are activated if you miss catching the sheep. These death animations are very well done and pretty funny. Some sheep get launched miles in the air only to plummet to their doom in the distant background, while others are blown up or sawn in half.
This, along with the pun-filled names for the levels gives the game a decent sense of humour, and may make you want to persevere just to see the next method of sheep dispatching or just how many sheep puns the developer can come up with. The Sheep Hits The Fan, indeed.
Alas, the rest of the game doesn’t quite live up to the humour. A side scrolling game that plays very much like The Helicopter Game, your balloon moves automatically to the right, and will keep falling to the ground unless you tap the screen, at which point it will start to rise. The longer you hold the screen, the faster the balloon will climb.
Learning to judge when the balloon will start to respond to your touch and stop descending and start ascending is the key to the whole game, as the sheep are usually trapped in precarious positions along the route. You have to save a certain amount to finish each level, and they can be in gaps that are only just big enough for your balloon to fit in, at the bottom of valleys, which requires some good timing to get in and out of, or anywhere that the designers chose to place them.
The problem here is two fold. First of all, the collision detection is incredibly harsh, with even the merest scrape of land causing your death. It sometimes feels as if the collision detection is incorrect, but it isn’t, it just feels that way because of the second issue. When the balloon is at the top of the screen, it falls much slower than when it is at the bottom of the screen. Now, this isn’t just when it is falling quickly all the way from the top to the bottom, but even when you are on a fairly even route along the bottom of the screen.
The best way to describe it is, imagine the balloon is falling all the way from the top of the screen to the bottom, now you would expect it to go really fast towards the end and that you will need to brake really hard. It does this as expected, but you still need to brake just as hard whenever you are anywhere near the bottom whether you are falling fast or not. When you are at the top of the screen, you don’t need to brake nearly half as much, and it is like there are two gravity fields at play. This makes those small gaps extremely difficult to navigate, and when the collision detection is as harsh as it is, then real frustration is the outcome.
The graphics and sound are decent, and the little balloon chugs along nicely. There are 30 levels included, with more promised, and an endless mode to play around in. Most people will finish the main game in an hour or so if they haven’t thrown their phone against the wall in the meantime, and the endless mode adds some extra legs to the title, so I feel that for the price there is just enough content here.
It is a shame I can’t recommend this, as the actual gameplay is a frustrating let down. It looks like a jaunty, fun little game but it really isn’t.