Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin Review

Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin is a deranged game. You play as a microscopic tentacled critter named Lemmy who accidentally ends up in the body of a dolphin-headed scientist. Your job is to navigate through the fishy brainiac’s insides to emerge through the other end unharmed. But that’s not even the weirdest part. Get this: the game is from Microsoft.

Actually it was developed by Press Play, the folks behind Max and the Magic Marker, but they were acquired by Microsoft earlier this year. Tentacles originally came out as a Windows phone exclusive, but apparently Microsoft decided they wanted to, you know, make money on it, so they’ve brought it over to iOS. Anyway, we’re glad they did, because Tentacles is a grotesque bucket of nauseating fun.

Nerve endings are just the worst.

The setting is guts and organs, so the levels you play are the insides of the brain, spleen, colon, heart, etc. The control scheme is so intuitive that no on-screen buttons are necessary at all. Each time you tap, Lemmy shoots out a suction-cupped tentacle that sticks to just about anything. So you tap, tap, tap your way along, moving Lemmy around obstacles with grace, precision, and speed. Such elegant touchscreen controls bring to mind other brilliantly executed games, like Tiger Style’s Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor and Waking Mars.

The obstacles and enemies you encounter are numerous and unforgiving. Organ walls might shift together, so you have to make sure you don’t get crushed. The flow of bodily fluid might pull you in one direction that you have to adjust Lemmy’s grip against. Pinwheels of spiky teeth and veins full of poison can all do you harm. It’s all horribly disgusting, but also awfully inventive.

The better to chew you with.

As you progress, the game is also very difficult. Things start off easy enough, probably so players can acclimate to the unusual locomotion of the creature. Soon, however, the claws come out and the pain begins. You’ll die in this game, often numerous times in each level. Thankfully, however, checkpoints are frequent, lives are unlimited, and enemies stay dead.

Each level has three stars you can earn, each one linked to an achievement. You get one star for collecting all the “pickups” in the level, one for not dying, and one for completing a challenge within the level. This, of course, is the tried-and-true method of building replayability into a game, and it works here as well as it does elsewhere. Dedicated players can spend hours and hours trying to rack up a 100% completion rate.

Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin is one of those rare games that seems impossible without a touchscreen device. Although just about everything about the game is cartoonishly disgusting, even the squeamish should check it out. The unique gameplay and offbeat sense of humor make this crazy platformer a giant winner. If nothing else, watch the trailer below, because you haven’t seen another iOS game like this one.

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