Gesundheit! is a game you desperately want to love. Its gorgeous hand-drawn art and adorable character design makes it easily one of the best-looking games on the App Store, and its whimsical tone is instantly appealing.
Sadly, after its enjoyable opening stages, the charm gradually fades, replaced by frustration at fiddly controls and exacting challenges.
You control a tiny green pig whose tendency to produce huge blobs of snot when he sneezes leaves him ostracised by his porcine peers.
As the crows fly
Yet when monsters invade his home town, his snout turns out to be his secret weapon, producing a trail of gunk that can lead these hungry mucus-munchers into traps.
Defeating them all ends the stage, though there’s an additional objective, with three star fruits to be collected along the way.
Trouble is, they often lie close to the sleeping monsters, and any contact – either from monsters or snot – destroys them instantly. You’ll need to consider every movement if you want to leave them intact.
The creatures have exceptional hearing and will chase you if you get too close, though they’ll stop should you break their line of sight.
You can slow them down by firing snot balls, though the monsters are quicker than the pig and can be on top of you before you’ve had time to sneeze one out.
Later levels add fast-moving mosquitoes to the equation, meaning that you’ll need to tread very carefully to avoid disturbing these beasts, though you’ll eventually need to attract their attention in order to complete the level, or even to activate switches along the way.
Gesundheit! regularly introduces new mechanics, such as teleporters which you can use to warp to another part of the stage, or even to shoot blobs of snot through.
Meanwhile, clusters of flowers aggravate the pig’s allergies, allowing him to produce larger greenies that can be bounced off walls.
These are solid ideas, but unfortunately the levels are so cramped that the solutions to puzzles are far easier to work out than to execute. The controls don’t ever seem quick or precise enough, particularly as pathfinding isn’t one of the pig's strengths.
Tapping on a free part of the screen usually sees him take the fastest route there, but occasionally he’ll get confused and go the long way around, or bump into scenery on the way and stop.
You’ll learn to work around these foibles, but these problems still niggle from time to time, particularly when you’re being chased.
The need to slide and hold your finger on the touchscreen to fire snot makes a tricky task even more awkward, as you’ll need to create a substantial gap between pig and monster to create a slimy distraction – by which time your pursuer might well have given up and fallen asleep once more.
Couple all this with some bad collision detection and you have a recipe for frustration. When even the charmingly off-kilter recorder music heralding each death starts to annoy, you know you’re in trouble.
It's worth noting that the additional screen space on an iPad alleviates these problems a little, but it's impossible to recommend Gesundheit! without serious caveats. What a pity.