Bitter Sam Review

Sam is… well, Sam is bitter. The little guy has been a consistent failure at school, his bride-to-be left him standing at the altar, and the only trophy in his possession boasts a big number “13″ on its front. Now Sam’s the star of his own physics-based iOS game, and going by the expression on his face, he’s still not impressed. Sheesh, there’s just no pleasing some people.

Then again, Sam wasn’t corralled into his adventure through legitimate means. Bitter Sam actually relays the story of his kidnapping and involuntary plunge into the depths of the Earth. In fact, Sam can suffer some potentially icky deaths, but hey, at least you get a pretty good physics game out of the whole deal.

It’s the angle of your dangle.

Sam, a boy from an unidentifiable species (best guess is he’s some kind of tiny demon-sloth in a pair of red pajamas), is spirited away to a lab, where a scientist lowers him slowly through several dozen levels that are laced with hazards. Sam’s only lifeline is his rope. If it snaps or if it’s cut, it’s Game Over. You must help him descend safely by tilting your iDevice so that Sam swings left and right, respectively.

Bitter Sam is an incredibly simple game to grab hold of, which is part of its appeal. The tilt controls are also extremely responsive, so all you need to do is observe the vertically-scrolling landscape and keep a sharp eye out for gears, buzzsaws, pieces of wood, spikes– anything that might trip up poor Sam. You also need to collect the crystal that’s in each level. Crystals are necessary for unlocking the game’s worlds, each of which have different terrain, and different hazards.

Sam has a few friends to help him out, though he’s not the type to believe it. He can pick up pigs, for instance, which are good for dismantling one hazard. However, the pigs can also be hulked-up if Sam also manages to grab three syringes of, er, stuff. The resulting Muscle Pig (“OINK!!”) will grant Sam a few precious seconds of invincibility. Sam can also pick up rope protectors, drills, and other power-ups that will help him survive a little bit longer.

Hanging by a thread.

Don’t feel TOO bad if Sam dies, though. The sweet release of death seems to be the only thing that makes him smile.

The charm and humor of Bitter Sam is another one of the game’s draws. It’s hard not to like Sam’s nonplussed facial expression, which rarely changes, even if he’s holding a giant, writhing pig. Combined with the simple gameplay, which increases in challenge at just the right incline, Bitter Sam is one of those games that you’ll try again and again it, if only to get that last pesky crystal.

The game might be a little too simple for anyone who’s looking for something beyond the typical iOS distraction, however. Sam faces different hazards from one world to the next, but the basic gameplay remains the same. Sam’s glum charm might keep you hanging on a bit longer than what’s typical for an inexpensive iOS game, but if you grow bored, you’ll probably just move on and not look back.

For those of you who want to try and score a better life for Bitter Sam, though, buckle up: we’re going down. And down. And down.

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