Spirits for iPad is what happens when Lemmings becomes mournful and goes to art school. Like that classic, Spirits has you guide little creatures form their starting point to the swirly portal in each level. Dangers abound, of course, so it’s up to you to figure out how to shepherd these noble spirits safely to their destination.
The spirits start off as leaves piled on the ground. They then take turns sprouting bodies and becoming mindless sleepwalkers that will continue walking in the direction they’re facing until they hit a wall. If they come to a ledge, they’ll jump forward, even if it means falling to a spiky death. If they jump into a gust of wind, they lift off wherever the wind takes them. That’s it, really. Unlike Lemmings, not all of the spirits start at the same place.
The fate of the spirits is in your hands.
Your job, then, is to sacrifice the few to save the many. The spirits have four different abilities. They can build a ramp of leaves, dig through the ground, become a cloud that blows air, or turn into a blob that blocks wind. However, not every ability is available on every level.
There are 40 levels in all, with somber visuals full muted tones and Limbo-like silhouettes. The spirits amble and drift with silky smooth animation, giving the whole thing a very polished look and feel. The music adds to the atmosphere with its somber, vaguely menacing loops.
It’s a magical funhouse of death.
The game doesn’t take more than a couple of hours to complete, but if you want to squeeze some more value from it you can try to get perfect scores on each level. To do this, you must save the optimal number of spirits, while touching each of the tiny plant sprouts that are scattered around, usually in inconvenient places. In most levels this is no simple task.
The game isn’t perfect, however. Some of the ramp-building and hole-digging has to be done with frustratingly difficult precision. Also, since the game is based so heavily on Lemmings, we wish they had added another unique ability or two. There’s nothing wrong with basing a game on a classic, but we’d like to see them get a little more creative with it. Lastly, there’s a ‘wake up all’ button, which can speed up the game once you’ve solved the level and are waiting for the spirits to march to the portal, but a ‘fast forward’ button would do it better.
But seriously, folks, let’s not dwell on the negatives. Overall we had a very good time with Spirits, and if you like Lemmings as much as you appreciate an artistic gaming experience, Spirits for iPad is sure to make you a happy camper.