First 5 Games has brought to the world of platforming a rather interesting take on the typical jump-fail-die-try-again archetype with the introduction of Cling!. With pleasantly challenging level design, clean graphics, and couple of welcome extra features, Cling! may be the action-platformer that will stick to your ribs (or mobile device).
One of the most striking aspects about Cling! is that it looks playful—from the creatures that resemble some Wazowski-esque mutation to the overall art style, Cling! visually grabs players from the beginning and keeps a hold on them with its peg-based platforming design. Players go about levels as Edgar, a purple-squid-devil/vending-machine-escapee (not quite) as they race to the end of each level past obstacles ranging from terrain to other monsters to the dreaded foe known as empty space. Rather than jump from one flat surface or incline to another like most platformers will require, Cling! cleverly implements a peg-based movement system where players latch onto pegs with their tentacle/legs/ligaments. This dynamically changes how players would usually approach a platformer, as you can get stuck out of reach of pegs, which will restart the level. Players are awarded stars for completion of levels according to their performance relative to the time it took to complete the course. To put it bluntly, it’s hard as hell to get gold on any level. It’s expletive-inducing, teeth-clenching, hair-raising hard—and that’s actually one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game.
While difficulty is sometimes an obstacle in and of itself, especially for puzzle or platforming games, Cling! excels in making these challenges fun. Numerous additions to the courses as you progress through the game are the primary suspects for this crime of pleasantly difficult gameplay: between charged pegs that will propel you further, anchor pegs that will literally only let go once you do, or even rubber blocks that add some bounce to the course, each level is increasingly interactive as it is challenging. Factors like these keep the game feeling fresh, and are something to look forward to, even if you get stuck on a given level.
There are collectible items strewn across certain levels, from gumdrops (the real-money currency purchasable in the game’s store) to little accessories like a fedora to jazz up your alien in the style of Inspector Gadget or a confused teenager. Players can purchase new characters, accessories, and even tools to ease your gaming experience like instantly passing a course if you deem it too difficult to maneuver. Like most games, the in-game currency isn’t really necessary since you can collect it as you progress, but in case you really want to unlock everything from the first level onward, the largest bundle of gumdrops will cost you $10. What I can appreciate is that the biggest cash sink in the game from the store isn’t something to actually enhance your game experience or give an advantage to someone who has the funds for gumdrops. Tools to make the levels easier like turning off spikes or kill blocks for a level will only cost you 100 gumdrops, and slowing down objects on the map only 50 — both of which pale in comparison to the 1000 gumdrop price of a new colored character to swing around with. Even then, all levels can be passed with some practice, hardwork, and basic know-how of the in-game physics.
Overall, Cling! is a fun platformer (or pegformer, as it seems to be) that won’t break the bank. It’s challenging, but not overly so– and with ninety levels to traverse with pegs, spikes, and whatever else, there’s a decent amount of content. For the hardcore, getting gold medals on every course is quite the feat, providing even more content on that end of the spectrum. The store is there more to augment the aesthetics of the game, rather than gameplay, which is both a vice and virtue of Cling! Although the fact that the biggest purchase is not to give high-rollers an upper hand in getting to the end of the game, the additional features are sort of shallow and could use either more levels in packs, whether purchasable or not, and maybe a greater variety of wardrobe for your tentacle-clad friend.
Available on: iOS; Publisher: First 5 Games; Developer: First 5 Games; Players: 1; Released: March 21, 2013; ESRB: 9+; MSRP: $0.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.