Sheep In The Sky is the first outing from Stimulus Response Games, and if this is any indication of their capabilities I think we’re in for some good things ahead. It’s a deceptively basic puzzle game, where the object is to get the sheep to the gate found somewhere on each level. The graphics are cute, giving it even more of an air of simplicity. You’ll soon find, however, that some of the levels will take more than a few seconds of thought to conquer. The game sucks you in early and keeps you glued even when you’re about ready to toss your device against a wall because a level seems unsolvable.
All the poor sheep wants to do is get back to its flock. Unfortunately, several obstacles stand in its way, not the least of which is the fact that most of the clouds it is travelling on disappear after a relatively short amount of time. Your task is to get the sheep to the key and ultimately the gate on each level by flicking clouds, bursting balloons or doing whatever is necessary to keep the sheep afloat and out of danger. There are also three gems to collect on each level, but those are just a bonus and not necessary to the completion of the game.
White clouds will disappear moments after the sheep has touched them. Black clouds are reusable, but lose some of their usefulness if everything else is too far away. One way signs can help turn the sheep around, and balloons can help elevate the sheep like clouds do, though they can’t be jumped through. Mines hurt the sheep, as does simply falling off the board. A new element is introduced every few levels, though there isn’t quite the diversity of features that many of the popular puzzle games have. Still the developers have managed to make some quite challenging puzzles with the available props, and you’ll often spend several tries simply finding a safe route between start, key and door, let alone successfully retrieving all the gems.
You tap the sheep to wake it up, and then direct interaction with it ends. To activate a cloud you flick it when the sheep is on it, though you only have a couple of moments before it fades away, and if the sheep is too close to the edge flicking the cloud won’t matter. Sometimes it can be quite tricky getting the timing right. To pop a balloon you simply tap on it, which is rather easy in comparison. The controls are serviceable, but the tight timing required on some levels isn’t always conducive to the flick method.
The graphics are cute. There’s enough lighting and texture for things to look good and still be fairly simple. Due to their rectangular shape the clouds look a bit more like sponges than clouds, but that’s okay. The sound effects are all right, and the crashing sound after the sheep falls off of the board does a good job of making you feel sorry for it after a while. The music is enjoyable for a little while, but it does get repetitive quickly. A separate tune for each level set would have been nice.
Despite the brutal timing issues, Sheep In The Sky gets addictive rather quickly. You just have to have a lot of patience when dealing with some of these levels, or have no qualms about using the skip feature in a moment of weakness. While the game doesn’t offer quite the variety of gadgets that some puzzlers do, it still manages to present a unique challenge in every level. Hopefully we’ll see more levels added to this hidden gem one day, though I’ve still got my work cut out for me with the third set of the current offering.
Overall Score: 7/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4G running iOS 5.0.1.