Squids Wild West in Review – The Good, The Bad, or the Ugly?

Everyone’s favourite squids have ridden their way back into our palms in The Game Bakers latest entry into the cult classic Squids franchise. Squids Wild West continues the story of the first game (TMA Review) and pulls the setting into an adorable underwater Western world. The Game Bakers have stuck to what they know, which in this case is a very good thing. While little has changed from Squids, subtle improvements have been made to the game’s fluidity, along with minor introductions such as mounted seahorses for your squid-slinging pleasure.

In the updated adventure you play as the same band of squids from the first game as they venture back to Clint’s beaten up hometown of Seawood. The group sets off to search for new recruits and struggle to save their underwater world from an infectious black sludge which turns all that it touches into some form of evil incarnate. On your way you’ll run into several different characters, each of whom fit into one of four classes and have their own well developed personalities and abilities.

The ability to change, level up, and equip your squids is great, but the interface itself could use work

In fact, everything about the game is very well developed. The storyline is surprisingly engaging, and while it only takes the form of cut scenes it manages to add a level of depth and an element of heightened significance to what would otherwise be generic, puzzle driven levels. Case in point: I often elected to make up my squad of squids–my squid squad, if you will– based on their personalities as opposed to superior skillsets. I actually felt bad leaving Steev out of the battles in spite of Ronimo’s more appealing attributes. You might say I really cared about whose tentacles I was pulling on.

The levels themselves generally have the player destroy all enemies or reach an exit, but enough variation is included to keep these tasks from getting stale. This is largely due to the addicting mechanics which remain largely unchanged from the original Squids game. Movement requires the player to grab a squid’s tentacles, pull back, and release. More or less power can be applied based on how far back the tentacles are pulled, and the direction can be adjusted according to the angle at which they are pulled. Additional damage and points are awarded based on different tactical shots, and special moves can be incorporated based on each squid’s class. When you get the hang of using your squids in tandem during your turn, and finding the essential differences between classes, you’ll find SWW exceptionally difficult to put down.

Pull back on your squid's tentacles and release it in their direction to launch at your enemies

All other contributing components are treated with tentacle-tangling detail. The music is better than the vast majority of current Western movies, let alone iOS games, while the actual level and character designs take elementary ideas and flesh them out in brilliant ways. If you’re having trouble imagining how it all fits together, think Rango. It’s a mature story in a childish setting, but neither element is diluted as a result. In bringing this game to bear, The Game Bakers knew precisely what they were aiming for, and they nailed it.

More elaborate attacks include bounce attacks, bank shots, and more, and each one is rewarded with more pearls

The biggest knock against the game comes with the actual difficulty. At certain points the levels can become intensely frustrating, and the only way around this is to revert to earlier levels and grind out perfect 3 star scores. Points earned in this manner are used to level up your characters and purchase new helmets which improve their stats through an acceptable albeit clunky interface. While great in theory, this recurrent dichotomy ultimately takes away from the overall experience. At the point at which levels become too hard, and all your experience point (referred to as pearls) have been exhausted, the earlier levels become far too easy to come back to. Not only does this dull down the enjoyment and challenge of the grind, it also makes the later levels too easy once you’ve improved enough to get back to them. Unfortunately, this means that traditional grinding and levelling makes the game far too easy, whereas forgoing the process makes the game essentially unbeatable. One way around this is via IAPs, where players can purchase in-game items with real money to help boost the stats of their squids, thus eliminating the need to replay levels for those valuable pearls.

Qualms aside, Squids Wild West is what every iOS game should strive to be. Its story, mechanics, music, and design are all flawless. However, this game is in dire need of balance adjustments, and this is an issue that cannot be overlooked. It creates black holes of frustration and harshly limits any replay value. In spite of this, SWW undoubtedly warrants a shot from most people with fingers, and absolutely everyone with tentacles.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Squids Wild WestDeveloper: The Game Bakers
Reviewed Ver:1.0.0Min OS Req:4.0
Price:$0.99App Size:210.09MB
  • Perfectly realized tone, world, and mechanics
  • Rewarding and satisfying gameplay
  • Surprisingly entertaining story
  • iCloud sync for game saves
  • Unbalanced difficulty Curve
  • Clunky user interface

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