We’ve all seen them – those little coin-operated machines that dole out small toys and candy that as kids we clambered for, begging our parents for a coin to get the prize inside. Now picture yourself as the prize inside, the next in line to be bought, feeling the machine’s gears turning and your container starts down the chute, but then a problem! Your plastic shell breaks on the way to freedom. Now you need to safely make it out of the machine. Oh, and you’re a sticky spider toy, similar to those sold when I was kid – the type you could throw against the wall and it would slowly climb down. Such is the bizarre premise behind “Cling!” – but ultimately, it makes for an interesting platformer of sorts, where you move this character around unusual obstacles.
The first few levels of Cling! slowly introduce you how to the games control. This is not your normal platformer and the developers actually call it a ”Pegformer”. You won’t be jumping from platform to platform, instead you grab and stretch for pegs to make it safely through all 90 plus levels in the game. You learn that momentum is your friend, but to get the fastest times on each level (and earn medals) the game can seem like a lot of trial and error. There are collectables along the way that you can find, such as hats and gumdrops, which can be used to unlock other items in the in-app store.
You have two options for control: You can use a finger anywhere on the screen to move in the direction you want, or you can use a virtual stick in the corner of the screen. The problem is the game requires you to be very accurate at times to get where you want to go, and I found that both of the control options were too loose for my liking. The spider’s “legs” are a very stretchy material, and I found myself “over-stretching” too far in the direction I wanted to go. This resulted in falling out of bounds or into a hazard. At least some of the larger levels have checkpoints to combat some of this frustration.
If you find a particular level just too hard to overcome, the game offers you the ability to use power-ups to make things easier. There are a few different types, from turning off hazards, slowing down moving objects, to automatically warping to the end of the level. These powers can be bought with gumdrops found in the levels in small amounts, or you can buy large bunches via microtransactions with real-world money.
The backgrounds are very cute looking, with clean graphics and a soothing pastel color palette. The level designs are cute too, but some levels seem rather unfair and impossible. Your little toy spider is well animated, and definitely simulates being made out of that rubbery, sticky, stretchy material. When it comes to sound effects, the game seems a bit lacking. The background music on the start screen and within the levels is bouncy, but it is also a bit too repetitive for my liking and individual tracks aren’t too memorable on their own. Your little spider does not really make much noise other than when he grabs onto pegs with a sticky squishy sound, or gets zapped by hazards. In the end the visuals and sound do what they have to do.
Cling! has a steep learning curve for the controls, but once you get the hang of it there is some enjoyment to be had, and the game can be addicting as you try “just one more time” to get a better medal. 99 cents isn’t too much of an admission fee either, so if you’re up for the challenge you may just want to give this game a try.