Fibble – Flick ‘n Roll is the first foray into the iPhone App Store from Crysis publisher and developer, Crytek. Does that mean that Crysis will eventually find a home on iPhone? No, but it at least means that Crytek see that the technology is maturing, even if only for casual titles at the moment.
So, their first game for iPhone is Fibble, a hybrid of a physics puzzle game and platform adventure. It may not do anything wildy original, but what it does do, it does well, with a perceptible sense of charm and solid gameplay sensibilities, as well as having some polished and impressive graphics.
The game sees you take control of Fibble, a small orange blob from outer space who has crash landed in a small suburban house with a bunch of his alien friends. You must guide him, using his powers and his comrades’ special abilities to get through a series of puzzle based levels, collecting stars and coins along the way.
Viewed from a top down perspective in full 3D, you control Fibble by using a classic slingshot manuever, which launches him off at the desired speed and angle, and you then have a small degree of control over him by tilting your device. You can’t really control his movements very much; think more along the lines of nudging him along a bit. The game is really all about using various aliens to help you to the exit.
You can place aliens at various points around the levels, and indeed, it is this alone that opens up a whole world of tactical options and strategic play to the game, as placing the right aliens in the right areas is a key to success. The aliens have varying abilities to help you out, and they are all activated by a tap of the screen when you move into their vicinity. One alien throws you up into the air, another shoots you off in the opposite direction at high-speed, while another allows you to change route. The levels also have a variety of ramps, speed boosters, holes and routes to use and explore, and when you combine these with the different aliens, you get some really well designed ideas and levels.
It is on the more complex, multi layered levels that the game really shines, and the different objectives that are thrown into the mix for each stage just add to the sense of variety, fun and challenge. Extra levels are unlocked by finding tokens and earning gold medals on the stages, aside from the last level on each zone, which is unlocked by a coloured key. You can either buy keys via an in-app purchase, or find them hidden in later stages, but I would advice against spending money here, as the keys really are not that hard to find.
You can also use IAP’s to unlock all the levels, but again, doing so really isn’t too tricky, so I would only recommend doing this if you are well and truly stuck. You can also buy a flying saucer to help you out every hour in a stage, another cool but unnecessary purchase. Despite all this, I think Crytek use the IAPs well, as none of them are required, and are never pushed in your face.
The game has 30 levels in total, and you will probably blaze through most of them very quickly indeed, and it is only when you get to the tougher, more complex stages that progress will slow. I think there is a few days gameplay in here, which isn’t brilliant, but I have seen far worse. It will take you a fair while to unlock all the stages and keys, and even longer if you want to 100% everything.
The graphics are a big draw, as they really are gorgeous, highly detailed and really look fantastic on a Retina display. The cut scenes are equally good, being both comical and impressive, with obvious high production values. The soundtrack rounds off what is an extremely high level of presentation and polish, including unlockable character bios, a neat power saving mode and achievements, although the lack of Game Center integration is puzzling.
There were a couple of times where I found that Fibble could get stuck in some of the thin pathways, especially if he was bounced at a certain angle, making him just bounce back and forth against two parallel walls. The only option was a level reset, which was quite frustrating.
The only other criticism is really a lack of true originality, as Fibble essentially just takes a lot of ideas from other games and rolls them up in a package. However, when the game is as polished, playable and impressive as it is, then this can easily be forgiven. Overall, this is a great little game that feels fresh and vibrant, despite its lack of originality, and is a great start for Crytek on the iPhone.