The iPad has taught us much about mankind . Who knew we had such an endless hunger for tilting, sliding and tapping?
Let Me Loose is the most mobile of games. I don’t mean it’s any more portable than any other mobile game. I meant that, when you think of mobile games, the traits you probably most think of make up pretty much everything Let Me Loose has to offer. You tilt and you slide and you tap. The levels are all single screen physics puzzles that need to be solved as quickly as possible. There’s a secondary score based on how many “scrummies” you collect on each level. Your character, a cartoon amoeba, is absolutely adorable.
And of course there are the more worrisome aspects of mobile gaming. Let Me Loose supports in-app purchases. It basically recommends them. You can flood puzzles with water, which means you can just drag your finger across the screen with your amoeba in tow. No need to figure out the physics—all you have to do is trace a line from start to finish. You start with three bottles of war per game, and of course you pay real money for more. That’s on top of the dollar you have to pay for the game itself. There might be little point to railing against in-app purchases at this late date—that war is over—but this is just to say that Let Me Loose embraces almost every single hallmark of the mobile game that you can think of.
That doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. I’ve played far worse on my iPad and Android phone. The core mechanics are pulled off without a hitch—the amoeba oozes along at a consistent pace as I tilt my iPad, and the various vials I can slide around the screen react promptly and smoothly to my finger. I need to slide those vials to give the amoeba surfaces to slide on, or open up a pathway through a tangle of walls, or to avoid deadly electric currents that fry my amoeba in an instant. I tilt and slide to get him from point A to point B, from the top of the screen to the pipe that sucks him into the next room. The game crashed on my iPad 2 when I first tried to replay a level, but largely Let Me Loose is as mechanically sound and technically sturdy as you’d expect from a Chillingo game.
Running with a formula doesn’t always reveal a lack of inspiration. Let Me Loose makes a soft impression, but it’s a fine time-waster for those brief idle moments after you’ve checked your email and your Twitter and still have a few minutes to kill. Sometimes that’s all you can expect from a mobile game.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games section and writes about games for the Boston Herald.