Do you like maths-based puzzle games? WAIT – before you run away because maths makes your brain hurt, this game involves stupidly cute fluffy sheep. Sheep getting sliced in half by lasers and fed to hungry wolves. Bet I got your attention now, right? Before I continue here is the trailer from Divide By Sheep so that you can get a feel for this game about friendsheep (I blame Delano for the bad puns, sorry).
This game is about stupidly cute and cuddly creatures and is actually pretty odd and twisted, which really speaks to me. You have to save sheep from their aquatic prison, because sheep can’t swim. The problem is the life rafts can only hold so many sheep without bursting and causing everyone to drown. This means you spend a lot of time killing off sheep in various ways so that you can save as many as you can fit on the rafts. This needs of the many before the needs of the few approach turns you into Death’s accountant. The number of souls you can save (at least, I think I am saving them by putting them on those little dinghies) becomes all you worry about, with fatalities on the way becoming a necessary evil. The game does its best to still make you feel bad though, the cute animals that live in the game world have really emotional faces when you interact with them.
Each raft you fill correctly gives you a star for the level, with each level having a maximum score of 3 stars. It is a familiar rating system for anyone who has played puzzle games on iOS before, but it feels a lot more relevant to try get three stars in each level now. This isn’t about getting a good score or collecting all the candy that was flying around: this is about saving lives. It made me want to get three stars for each level, more so than the normal challenge to excel and get a high score for something.
As you go through levels new challenges get added in the form of hungry wolves, laser beams (don’t worry the sheep get taped back together on the life raft!), explosive pressure-sensitive platforms, switcheroo platforms, Death harvesting souls and Death’s pet Kraken all stand in your way.
Just because it is cute (albeit rather dark) doesn’t mean this game is a pushover. Some of the puzzles will have you scratching your head and swearing they are impossible and I found myself having to replay several stages when I didn’t have enough stars to unlock world three, which requires 150 of the total 180 stars available to unlock. That’s 83% of all the stars, for those not paying attention. Time for me to go save more sheep, and kill a whole lot more.
I really hope Death likes his new friends.
Divide By Sheep launches today for $4.99 on Steam (10% launch discount) or R36.99 on iOS/Android.