Many pacifists would say that war shows men to be nothing but animals.
Such people really should be more specific. They no doubt mean to liken mankind’s militaristic pursuits to the behaviour of savage beasts such as wolves or lions.
Bulkypix has interpreted it a different way. As the title of Saving Private Sheep suggests, you’re responsible for rescuing a beleaguered woolly grunt from the ravenous jaws of a pack of wolves.
Despite the suggestion of violence, though, the game is anything but. It’s cartoonish with a comically rendered sheep sergeant barking (or should that be bleeting?) out orders in between levels.
These levels have absolutely nothing to do with warfare either, aside from the odd exploding barrel. This is a 2D physics-based puzzler, requiring you to land Private S.Ryan (who handily shrinks into a pentagonal block) on terra firma from atop various block configurations.
Most of said blocks are easily removed by a simple tap, though your score is judged by the number of taps used (the fewer the better), as well as time spent. Blocks are made of such materials as metal or pure explosives, meaning you have to work around – and make use of – their unique properties.
Like lambs to the slaughter
It’s hardly an original concept, but the appeal of Saving Private Sheep comes from the sheer charm of its execution, as well as some occasionally inspired level design.
Certain puzzles surprise you by requiring perfect timing and razor sharp reactions. For example, there are occasions where you must strike Private Ryan as he falls with an explosive-propelled projectile. Other levels start with some elements already in motion, requiring you to figure out a solution on-the-fly.
Often you fail on your first try – or even your first several tries – but there’s always the instant-restart button at the top of the screen to put you back at square one.
It has to be said that occasionally the freewheeling physics engine makes things a little too random. You may approach things from the right angle in order to attain a gold medal, but end up failing because one of the blocks bounces in an unfortunate manner, sending sheepy to the wolves below.
Worth its chops
Speaking of medals, they’re not particularly well implemented. You’re given a score target pertaining to each medal, but it’s unclear how that relates to gameplay in terms of the number of moves you should be looking to make.
As such, it becomes a matter of trial and error, going back to have another go at a level once you know that your approach was only good enough for silver.
Indeed, I’m not even sure why timing needs to play a part in the formula at all. The nature of play would suit a more sedate, meditative approach. Completing a level in seven seconds hardly seems to matter in the grand scheme of things.
Even taking into account the vague scoring and random physics, it possesses a level of polish that we’ve come to expect of a Bulkypix product. No doubt, some of the level design will have you grinning from ear to ear.
While it’s not quite among the finest physics-based puzzlers on iPhone, then, Saving Private Sheep is well worth investigating.