Splice is a puzzle game from indie developer Cipher Prime. Its premise is quite simple, to arrange what look like bacterial strands to resemble the skeletal structure in the background. The strands are built on the concept of binary trees. While the term binary tree isn’t familiar to all, almost everyone is familiar with them. A tournament bracket for instance is a binary tree. Simply put each node can have one or two nodes attached to it but no more. This results in elaborate looking strands that have to be dissected and rearranged to fit the goal structure.
Each level is broken up into seven strands that have to be solved. As the puzzles become more complex, the amount of moves allowed is often expanded. As the game progresses, there are new specialized nodes that are introduced to add depth to the puzzles. Some will split or replicate a strand while others terminate all the nodes attached to it. Once things get more complicated the game starts to make you feel like a scientist working in a biotech laboratory to create complex and deadly viruses or modifying them to create a cure. Splice, like many puzzle games, has no story or narrative other than whatever imagination you want to use while playing. It does, however, feature an atmospheric original score that marries the mood of the game perfectly. Neither dark or lighthearted its piano stabs melted into the background as I pondered my moves to solve each puzzle.
The genius of Splice is that there is no time limit or constraints placed on the player except the simple rule of binary trees and the number of moves allowed to solve. While the puzzles do get more complex, the game never gets tedious. Since there is no time limit I would find myself analyzing every decision to try and solve the puzzle in the allotted moves. Each puzzle can be attempted as many times as needed and there is no penalty for failure. I never found myself frustrated while playing Splice but instead, challenged. Some of the more complex strands take some serious thinking to get through and it is extremely rewarding to complete them. Players that really get the premise of Splice will also notice that some of the puzzles can actually be solved faster than the imposed move limit which provides an extra feeling of cleverness when achieved.
Splice takes advantage of its engaging challenges with a simple yet elegant style. There isn’t a lot of flash graphically because it isn’t needed. Its clean presentation provides a slick and modern appearance. Splice is available on multiple platforms including PC, Mac, Steam, iPad, Linux, and Android tablets. Humble Bundle is the place to get it right now on Android and Linux. I highly recommend checking it out. It has a pretty balanced progression so a sudden difficulty spike is rare. Splice is a great puzzle game that requires some clever thinking to come up with a solution in the allotted moves.