Slicing things to ribbons is an art. Anyone can go in and just start hacking away, but it takes precise ninja-like reflexes to really carve something up with finesse. This is the concept behind the frustratingly simple and elegant iSlash. Rather than the frenzied carnage of Fruit Ninja, iSlash encourages players to take a more measured and patient approach to the ancient art of slicing things up for fun.
Each level starts with a wooden shape with ninja stars of varying sizes bouncing around inside. The trick is to slice the shape as small as you can while keeping all of the ninja stars together. To cut, all you have to do is swipe, but you must be quick, for the level will restart if a ninja star touches the line you are cutting.
Along the top is a bamboo gauge with a red knot tied around it, indicating how close you are to the target. You can take as many cuts as you want, but your score seems to be a combination of your time and number of cuts, so it’s worthwhile to cut swiftly and strategically.
As you progress through the levels, additional challenges start to show up, like metal rims you cannot cut through. There are also bonuses for cutting off large pieces, like dynamite that will eliminate one of the ninja stars or a Buddha statue that temporarily slows down time.
It’s a familiar game mechanic, but iSlash delivers a remarkably smooth and polished experience, with very precise and responsive touch controls. It’s also ideal for sneaking in a quick level whenever you have a spare minute, but while the game is really quite fun, it’s also mildly infuriating, as the levels are remarkably challenging, despite the game being very simple to pick up.
Currently, there are about 70 levels, with more coming soon, according to developers. Since slicing up a shape takes hardly any time at all, you might expect to blitz through all the levels rapidly, but the shapes quickly become very tricky to negotiate, and the ninja stars bounce around so quickly that you may find yourself playing the same level over and over and over again. Perfectionists in particularly may be driven batty trying to get 3 stars on all the levels.
Despite the havoc later levels wrecked on my blood pressure, I was pleased with iSlash overall. The touch controls were excellent, the graphics and sound pleasant, and the relative difficulty level meant I got a lot of mileage out of the game. I was a little disappointed that you were unable to skip levels, and the bonuses and extra challenges seemed to appear and disappear rather randomly, but in general, this is a solid and fun experience that requires almost no effort to learn but gives your brain and fingers an intense workout all the same. For only $0.99, it’s also a cheap thrill, and there’s even a free version if you want to try it out before you buy.
Here is a video demo of the iSlash app on the iPhone
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