Auditorium Dev’s Splice Is Really Quite Nice

By Nathan Grayson on June 18th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

It also makes me really hungry for black liquorice jelly beans for some reason.

I just got done playing an all-too-brief demo of Auditorium developer Cipher Prime’s new sounds-and-shapes-a-majig Splice, and I’m feeling quite charmed – somewhat like a snake in a pot who’s trying to decide if he should buy a videogame or not. And, much like the proverbial snake, I’m leaning (and perhaps gyrating a bit) very strongly toward yes.

Splice is a gorgeously serene puzzler about arranging microbial strands into all manner of different structures. However, you only have a certain number of splices (moves, more or less) in which to do so. It’s an incredibly simple conceit that Cipher Prime then mutates into heaps and heaps of concise, subtly brilliant puzzles. Meanwhile, a haunting, utterly fantastic piano soundtrack (which you can sample here) slowly builds in the background. So basically, Splice is a wonderfully stylish game with shocking amounts of substance. The demo’s free on Steam, so give it a look-see-hear for yourself. John’s going to take a closer look.

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16 Comments »

  1. wccrawford says:

    I love puzzle games. So I really wanted to like Splice. But from the demo, my impression was that the puzzles have 1 solution and it’s just a matter of figuring out what the author intended. Not that that’s horrible, but experimentation doesn’t seem to really have a place. (Unlike SpaceChem, for example.)

    The demo also was pretty simple. I didn’t get the sense that I had really solved anything interesting by the time I finished it. It made it hard to pay the money for the full one. I probably will, soon, but I haven’t yet.

    • gwathdring says:

      That’s about how I felt after the demo, only I don’t intend to get the full one at all.

      to each their own. This one didn’t grip me. I liked the atmosphere of it, though.

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        G-Lord says:

        Same here. I might get it later, but I’m quite busy with The Adventures of Shuggy (thanks for the tip RPS) at the moment.

    • gavintlgold says:

      With the replay button at the end of a round it seems like they’re trying to add replayability, but it’s not set up correctly for replayability–there should be both obvious solutions and more subtle solutions. I have little interest in replaying the puzzle if I know how it works already.

      The game also seems somehow too intuitive, which makes it end up feeling too easy.

      • heyandrei says:

        Hi there Gavin! I’m one of the Splice developers.

        There actually are obvious solutions and subtle solutions (called angelic solutions, which are made in one fewer move). I think we were a little too subtle in indicating this to people though. For any serious puzzle player, the game is trivially easy if you’re just getting the regular solutions, but much more difficult if you’re going for angelics.

        You’re kind of in between a rock and a hard place releasing a demo for a puzzle game. Of course the first few levels are going to be easy, and unfortunately people will think that the first few levels dictate the level of difficulty in the rest of the game. Which is not true.

        • Bob_Bobson says:

          The trick is to have the demo be different from playing the first few levels of the game. So long as you clearly signpost where the demo jumps from level 3 to level 15 (or whatever) people will forgive the difficultly spike while getting to see what the meatier levels are like.

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      Trinnet says:

      You’ve perfectly summarised my experience – over the course of the demo I never really got a sense of accomplishment or feeling that I’d done anything in any way clever.

      The game felt intuitive and was well presented, but was completely unsatisfying.

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      particlese says:

      Some puzzles in the full game do have multiple solutions, and one challenge is to solve them in fewer moves than it gives you.

      My favorite part about the game is that you have to learn its tricks through experimentation. However, I sometimes solve puzzles accidentally, which leads to less satisfaction than if I were to go “AHA!” and do something more deliberately. Guess I should play it some more!

    • Imska says:

      I disagree with the ‘unsatisfying’ comments. Yes, getting the main solution and solving the thing (at least in the demo) is fairly easy, but whenever I figured out an angelic solution, it felt downright great. (The puzzles with angelic solutions are denoted with a piano cue when the starting position is shown). I loved the demo for this reason, and am refraining from buying the game until it’s actually offered up on the Cipher Prime store so that more of the proceeds can go towards the developers.

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    LTK says:

    Good, I thought I was the only one.

    I’d really like to play the entire thing as well, because the puzzle elements look like they hold some hidden complexity and I just love the aesthetic.

  3. The First Door says:

    I played the demo and utterly adored it, the music and aesthetics are just wonderful! I’ll no doubt pick this up once I’ve finished being utterly rubbish at FTL.

  4. Hypernetic says:

    I completed the demo in like 2 minutes… the game seems a bit too easy.