App of the day: Pet Rescue Saga review (iPhone)
Pet Rescue Saga, the latest tile from King - makers of app heavyweight Candy Crush Saga - has landed to eat into your every minute. It's a good-looking and well-made puzzle game that's taxing and rewarding in equal measure.
Pet Rescue Saga
Sounds Candy Crush familiar doesn't it? In a lot of ways Pet Rescue Saga plays just the same and reflects a lot of Candy Crush's play tactics, but instead of the same line-based match 'em up, Pet Rescue works on a tap-to-destroy, matching coloured blocks mechanic. These block arrays can cover multiple heights and widths, just as long as they're matching.
As blocks are tapped away surrounding blocks tumble downwards and, once columns are taken out in full, magically magnetise towards the left of the screen. This is important because you'll need to think in advance where surrounding coloured blocks will end up before mindlessly tapping away in order to advance.
If you find yourself with a tall stack on non-matching blocks you're likely to be in trouble. The screen will lower, cutting off the top blocks and removing them from your potential score sheet.
But it's not necessarily the blocks that you'll need to worry about. The game is called Pet Rescue Saga and that's for a reason: plenty of levels are adorned with fluffy pups, kitty cats, pigs, pigeons and more. It's your job - depending on the level - to rescue these innocents by freeing their path to the base of the level.
Many levels depend on it - "rescue seven pets" for example - where if too many pets are culled from a lowering screen or you lack the proficiency to get blocks matching up to free their path then, boom, it's game over, one life lost.
As per Candy Crush, Pet Rescue relies on the familiar five lives theory. Use them up and you'll need to wait a period of time for them to refresh - it is also possible to buy lives or be awarded them via Facebook friends. The Saga continues: and it's social media heavy in its self promotion.
There are other familiarities too: levels are often very tricky and will require not just skill and a dash of luck, but the use of additional items to help you through. There are block smashers to eliminate a single block, rockets that shoot through a vertical line of blocks, balloons that remove all visible blocks of a particular colour, and other on-screen helpfuls such as bombs that explode in a single block distance to all directions.
But that's not all. As levels progress so too does difficulty. Blocks will come wrapped up in mesh that needs to be removed by matching up blocks which surround it or, if the going gets tough, there's a wire clipper to remove it from individual blocks. Run out of special items and you may struggle to complete a level.
We found Pet Rescue Saga to be trickier than Candy Crush Saga right from the off. If you're after a tricky title to tax your brain - yet delight upon each level completion - then look no further.
All this is wrapped up in a quirky, path-based map that's complete with Terry Pratchett-style characters - dogs asleep on houses and giant cats in hats among plenty of others. It looks great, and the colourful levels are visually appealing.
Pet Rescue Saga might not have the fast-paced appeal of its company's previous title, but we're confident this screen-tapping game will be on innumerable smart devices in no time at all. It's good, even if it is designed to get under your skin and encourage you to buy in-app purchase items to assist with your progress - that's not compulsory by any means, and that's why the truly challenging Pet Rescue makes it as our App of the Day.