Squids Wild West: review

  • Format: Android, PC, Mac, iOS (reviewed on iPod Touch)
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: The Game Bakers
  • Developer: The Game Bakers
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://www.squidsthegame.com/

After devouring the cherry atop Squids (The Game Bakers’ first delicacy), we sat back with a pleased expression on my face.

“That was a satisfying and delicious turn-based strategy product that balanced the sugary taste of pick-up-and-play simplicity with the hearty texture of proper gameplay.” we said, mixed-metaphorically.

Squids Wild West, the second serving as it were, has a fresh coat of frosting with new flavours and sprinkles, but the recipe hasn’t changed a bit– and that’s totally a good thing.

You’ll still be locked in combat with ooze-infected minions as you take turns slinging squids about like so many balls on a pool table, but the fight has moved to the very wildest and Westest of locales. Hardened gunslinger Clint guides the familiar cast through fish bone barbed wire and wigwams fashioned from ice cream cones, leading up to a surprisingly emotional climax. Typos and grammatical woes plague the goofy writing, but this dip in quality doesn’t touch the colourful visuals, top-notch music, or (most importantly) shrimp-smashing gameplay.

Yes, that little yellow squid is wearing a helmet from Skyrim. They couldn’t resist.

The slingshot-style combat mechanics are virtually identical to the first game’s, but a bunch of fresh ingredients keeps them from getting stale. Seahorses are the newest addition to the Squids family: any unit can hop on one of these fellows to swap stamina meters and finesse with raw power. Knocking shelled evildoers (one of the new enemy types) flat on their backs with an unwieldy steed is good fun, but launching yourself into yet another pit isn’t so much. Projectile-spitting fish, dynamite lobsters, and whirlpools that portal you across the map do a much better job of enhancing the physics-based chain reactions, whether tactical or hilariously accidental. There isn’t a new class to be seen, but a bundle of new characters and items softens the blow.

Highly replayable levels are split into six chapters this time around, one of which remains locked under the mysterious guise of “Coming Soon.” Oodles of unlockables can be obtained by earning pearls through special objectives and generous helpings of bonus missions or, if you prefer, shelling out real-world currency. Thankfully, the micro-transactions are discreet and polite, almost to the point of being difficult to spot. Considering that the price tag is mere inches away from free-to-play, The Game Bakers deserve a round of squishy-tentacled applause.

With another follow-up on the way, you’ll probably get the most out of the series (storyline and otherwise) by starting from the beginning, but jumping in here and now will catch you up on the important bits. Regardless of where you start and whether you look at the series as a casual strategy game or a strategic casual game, there’s almost no excuse to pass on Squids Wild West. Hop over the low barrier of entry and smile as a very friendly rip current pulls you under for hours on end.

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Written by Stephen K

A lover of video games in general, Stephen will happily play just about any sort of game on just about any sort of system, especially if it's a platformer or an RPG. Except sports games. Sports games are boring.

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