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- Developer: Zeptolab
- Formats: Android, iOS
- Device tested: iPad 4
- Price: 69p
Cut the Rope: Time Travel
For the six people that haven't played Cut the Rope, here's the gist. It's a physics based puzzle game where you have to guide bits of candy into the mouth of a tiny monster called Om-Nom. Typically, the candy's attached to the end of a rope that's tethered to the wall or the ceiling or something, so, using your smartphone's touch screen, you slice through it with your finger and try to get the candy to swing into Om-Nom's gob.
Obviously it gets more complicated the further you go. Obstacles are introduced that have to be dodged and you get more ropes to cut. It's not a physics puzzle in the sense of Angry Birds where you can stretch the catapult back and just chance a win: Cut the Rope takes planning, precision and patience. The cutesy graphics are a straight up decoy; despite the cartoonish look, Cut the Rope takes adult levels of brainpower.
And with Cut the Rope: Time Travel, the newest iteration from developer Zeptolab, it just got that bit more nuanced. There's an aesthetic overhaul of course. Om-Nom has inexplicably discovered a time machine, so warps back to cut the rope during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the maritime pirate era, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. But beyond just giving Zeptolad a broader canvass when it comes to designing levels, the time travel setup introduces a bunch of new puzzle elements, too.
This time for example, Om-Nom is joined in each level by one of his ancestors, meaning you have two candies and more ropes to deal with. There's also a new time stop mechanic which you'll need to navigate rotating saws and other obstacles. An early level for example requires you to collect three moving stars. As the candies float upward trapped in little bubbles, you have to hit time stop when they cross paths with the stars (which are immune to the time freezing) and wait for them to hit the candy and be collected. Then you pop the bubbles by tapping the screen, restart time and watch the sweets fall into Om-Nom and his ancestors' mouths.
It's neat, it's tactile. The puzzle are mind mangling but you never feel hard done by in Cut the Rope: Time Travel because everything clicks together so perfectly. It's just a case of finding the solution.
It's hard to find fault here really. Cut the Rope: Time Travel is involving, simplistic, good looking. And from Zeptoplab's perspective, it's definitely marketable. The company is rolling out an entire franchise of animations, toys and t-shirts. For a developer staffed by only 54 people, which was founded just three years ago, it's a remarkable success story.
The only negative thing to say is that Cut the Rope feels...just kind of benign. It's just meh; this little throwaway toy that you keep on your phone. If it's immune to criticism that might just be because it's inconsequential. It's sort of like trying to review chairs or clock radios; Cut the Rope: Time Travel is a thing that's just there.
But that doesn't detract from the quality. Cut the Rope: Time Travel still a bright, challenging, easy-to-learn, awkward-to-master puzzle game. It's just that you probably wouldn't go out of your way to play it. It's the gaming equivalent of the old copies of Auto Trader in a dentist's waiting room. It serves to kill time.
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