Back in the day HeroCraft was one of my favorite PocketPC / Palm game developers, so I’m happy to see that they are becoming active in the iOS market. While they still haven’t ported one of my favorite games over to the platform yet they have definitely selected some interesting titles to release for the device, and Gibbets 2 is no exception. This archery game has you freeing the poor sods that would otherwise be the victims of the hangman’s noose (yeah, apparently that same guy that likes to torture innocents because other people can’t guess words quickly enough). You’ll have to skillfully wield a bow and arrow across more than fifty levels to help set the hanging men free.
To use the bow you simply drag in the opposite direction of where you want the arrow to go. A longer arrow means more power. Then you just release and hope you hit your target which is the rope and not the poor guy swinging from it. It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to be right on top of the bow to target and launch it, because often if you do that you won’t be able to get enough power behind your shot. It also helps to keep in mind that just because you can use a lot of power you don’t have to. Some levels are easy to beat but hard to master, while others are just plain hard to do anything on. You’ll be spending a lot of time on certain levels if you’re one of those people that aren’t the best at this kind of game but still like three stars on everything.
The only item you can directly control is your bow and arrow. However, along the way you’ll get things like targets that trigger one or more additional arrows, TNT barrels that can blow things up when you shoot them and teleports which will actually move your bow when an arrow hits them. Naturally there are plenty of obstacles as well. Walls and rock formations block your shots, while windmill blades can deflect or guide them, depending on your skill. Crates are a nuisance but can be moved with the right persuasion. There’s even one level that has a nice big cow in the middle of everything, and aside from an annoyed moo when you accidentally (it was an accident, right?) shoot it, the bovine doesn’t seem to want to budge.
Each level has a three star ranking, and often the difference between getting 1 and 3 stars seems to be these little bonus ovals littered throughout the levels. I haven’t really found an explanation as to what determines the stars, though, and oddly enough I never actually seem to get two stars on a level. Game Center integration provides leaderboards and achievements, and the modest 12 available achievements should be attainable by most players. The game also integrates with Facebook and Twitter if you feel like sharing your accomplishments through those venues.
I really like the visuals in Gibbets 2. Nothing is overly complex, but there’s just enough detail to look good. The animation is decent, and while I’m not a big fan of ragdoll characters, it actually works in this game. It almost makes it easier to feel sorry for the guys you’re trying to save when their bodies are flopping around, especially after accidentally getting shot. The sound effects work well enough, though I would have liked the vultures to be a bit more vocal. The music is okay, but while I appreciate the tunes more often than not I feel like just shutting them off.
When I first saw the screen shots for Gibbets 2 I wasn’t really sure I was going to like the game. There are times when I’m glad I’m wrong. Every now and again I do get frustrated with a level in not such a good way, but overall the game has had just the right balance of “this one is pretty easy and the next one is just challenging enough to sigh with relief when it’s complete”. The graphics are good and the sound effects suffice and don’t grate. Overall this is another solid puzzler that deserves to not get shadowed over by the glut of App Store content.
Overall Score: 7/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4 running iOS 5.1.1.