As a kid I remember being in a grocery store and seeing the row of quarter candy and magic bubble machines. Despite knowing the candy was stale and the toys in the magic bubbles were mostly cheap garbage, I always wanted some change to get myself something. My parents, knowing that the contents were junk, were mostly able to keep me away from them but every once in a while, in a moment of weakness they’d throw me a bone (quarter) and let me indulge in the pastime of paying too much for some junk that you don’t need.
On more than one occasion I won the righteous prize of a sticky octopus. These things were gelatinous blobs that felt gross when you touched them but had the ability to “crawl” down your window, provided you kept them clean, which was easier said than done. Developer First5 Games has designed their latest game, Cling!, around this very toy.
Cling! Is a puzzle platformer on iOS devices. Using the touch screen interface, players are tasked with moving Edgar through pegged environments, supposedly the insides of the quarter drop vending machines. The basics are very simple, take Edgar over a variety of pegs to get to the end of a level. As the game progresses the courses get more and more difficult with different pegs to be traversed and dangerous parts of the environment to be avoided. Some levels are outright devious in their design, to the point where I wanted to toss my phone across the room in frustration.
And that utter frustration was not limited to just one or two moments in the game, it was a consistent feeling that led me to not really want to play a ton of Cling!. The game is even designed under the pretense that people are probably going to get frustrated because there are power-ups that will allow one to skip levels after failing them number of times. And it is not just the sometimes extremely difficult puzzles that left me frustrated, in fact, if anything, I was most annoyed with the flimsy control mechanism.
Control in Cling! Is touch based, this should not come as a surprise for anyone being as the game is an iOS title. However, where Cling! gets a bit weird is in its dual control scheme system that has Edgar being controlled via simple touch directions as the default but with the shake of the device, everything switches to a virtual stick model. The general touch controls are not fantastic, often bringing with them their own frustrations, but the virtual stick model is nearly unplayable and due to the shake to switch mechanic, the game often put me in control via the wrong model, causing me to lose more than a few lives.
Despite the frustrating issues, when Cling! does get it right, it really works well. While I often wanted to throw my phone across the room because either the level was brutally hard or that the controls were working against me, I also wanted to clear that next zone and advance to the next puzzle, starting the cycle all over again. Like many of the best iOS games, Cling! hits with its addictive, short, level based gameplay. It’s not perfect but for .99 cents it offers plenty of content that will scratch the gaming itch a few minutes at a time.