You know those times when you're bored with doing laundry and you take the clothes hangers and tried to dangle them off one another so they all stay balanced? Well, Splice isn't quite about hangers. But you've got to fiddle with the balance of cellular structures in a similar way! In this beautiful puzzler from Cipher Prime, each string of cells is a mystery waiting to be spliced into something amazing.
In each level, you'll find a handful of cells that need to be shuffled around to fit inside the outlined pattern with a limited number of splices. For the purposes of this game, a "splice" is defined as the physical movement of a cell or group of cells from one location to another. So, by clicking and dragging a cell from one end of the strand to another, you've used up one splice. As a rule, each cell can have up to two "child" cells, so you're limited as to how many branches you can make at a time.
Rearranging the cellular strands starts out simply enough, but ramps up in difficulty when you're handed new cells that let you manipulate the structures in different ways. Starting from the central cell and moving outward toward the extremities, you'll notice a ring that stops at each special cell. Clicking the central cell (or right-clicking) activates that cell's special power, be it splitting itself in two and making copies of everything attached to it, or making everything hanging on it disappear from play. Activating these cells does not count toward your splice total.
If you think you might've made a mistake, you can fast forward and rewind your actions with your mouse's scroll wheel or by tweaking the timeline on the right. Each level is cleared when your cellular strand fits in the outline, without any unused special cells attached. Remember that your pattern must much identically; there's no sympathy for symmetry in this game!
Analysis: At its heart, Splice is a very simple game. The average level takes only five to seven moves to solve, and you have a limited number of options available to you at any point in time: splice some cells one way or another, or activate the next ring of special cells. However, the difficulty lies in finding the perfect combination of splicing, splitting, and purging. You could think of Splice as a series of Eyezmaze's Grow games, but set on a cellular level.
After a certain point, you are able to make splices where you can leave a segment of cells floating separately from your strand. This is a strange mechanic, since having the option of dumping cells in the middle of nowhere makes the game just a tad easier. Mind you, each detachment and reattachment still costs you vital splices, but it feels like a bit of a cheat when you can discard extra cells at the end of a level just by dragging them out into the void.
Despite this loophole, Splice still bears a fierce mental challenge to overcome to even be able to use that cheat. There are 49 levels available in the main game, with a handful of extra-hard puzzles to tackle in an epilogue. All of them are presented with an incredibly soothing whoosh through the petri dish as a piano serenades you with what is probably my favorite Cipher Prime soundtrack yet (sold separately). So there you have it, a fantastic puzzle with a great atmosphere. A round of Splice beats a coathanger windchime anyday.