Having never played the original, I went into Gibbets 2 (Out Now, $0.99) with a totally fresh perspective. To be honest, I didn’t notice what the app icon was really trying to show until I actually got into the game and was surprised with what it was: cutting down people that are hanging by a noose with a bow and arrow. Not at all what I expected.
Gameplay is simple. Pull back on the screen with your finger and let go in order to send your arrow flying from the bow to save the hanging person. Should you miss and hit the hanging victim, you’ll do more damage to him and his chances of living get slimmer and slimmer. The difficulty ramps up as you move forward, but there is no option to skip tricky levels. You need to complete it to get past it, which can be annoying especially if you get stuck at a certain stage. I wish the option of moving forward did exist because it lead me to turn off the game altogether on multiple occasions due to frustration. You’re graded on how fast you finished the level and the amount of unused arrows you have. I didn’t much care for my score as I just wanted to save all the people just so I could move on to the next level since there isn’t anything to unlock and you only need the one star to move on.
You can change the difficulty level if it gets too hard and the higher the difficulty the fewer arrows you have and the faster the people asphyxiate. More obstacles, such as windmills or walls will show up and after the first level, you’ll have your first taste at saving multiple victims, which creates a heightened sense of urgency. You’ll get some help in the form of portals that move your bow around and bubbles that shoot out another arrow when popped. Sometimes a random level will appear when you have to shoot birds or just collect bonus points. There’s fun to be had when you first start the game, but frustration eventually came over me and I realized there were better games that do this out there. The good news — or bad news if you’re loving the game — is that there are only 50 levels in the game.
The physics of the arrow are pretty spot on. In order to make higher arching shots, you’re going to need to pull back farther and let go quickly. Without the use of portals, the bow will be in a fixed position and you can’t move it around and sometimes the positioning of the bow is too close to the edge of your screen. You’re always tempted to pull back and swipe where the bow is, but the good news is that you can swipe back anywhere on the screen to send your arrow flying. There’s no IAP to be found and there are Game Center-powered leaderboards to conquer.
The visual style of the game is quite deceiving. Looking at the icon and the main screen, the character looks sort of cartoony and cute but the victims in the game look like crappy drawings. And even though you could tell that the game is about someone hanging from a noose, it was still pretty shocking to see the amount of blood from hitting bodies with arrows as well as the purple faces of the dead people you fail to cut down. The gore is handled in a cartoonish and somewhat humorous way but how this game received only a 9+ rating baffles me. A variety in backgrounds and character designs would have been nice and it seems the animals that sometimes inhabit the levels were given more attention in design than the people (or person I guess). The music is a little too light and fun for me especially when it comes to dealing with the somewhat sadistic nature of the game, but maybe that’s the point.
iFanzine Verdict: Swiping back and releasing isn’t anything new and although Gibbets 2 is a unique spin on a mechanic that we’ve seen way too many times, it’s still mostly the same old clone. With only 50 levels to play for there are so many games in this genre that you can get at the same price that are deeper, longer, funner and better. You’ll have fun but it’s fleeting and ultimately forgettable.