In Splice the player is cast in the role of a researcher, tasked with assembling cell structures to fit a set pattern. The building blocks of everything are yours to toy with. Pulling one cell into a new position will spawn additional cells erratically; learning how each segment reacts to each new position is the key to forming the correct shape in the amount of moves (splices) allowed. Later levels introduce a mutation mechanic that splits cells further, requiring advance manipulation techniques that can be downright diabolical.
If the gameplay sounds similar to the University of Washington's Fold-It project, which transforms players into researchers helping to solve real-world protein folding problems, there's a good reason.
"I basically wanted to a make a game where you run simulations" said Cipher Prime's Dain Saint on the inspiration for the game. "Something where you could mess around with a structure at the beginning, fast forward to the end and see how it came out, then head back at any point in time and mess around with it. So with all the simulating and whatnot Fold-It was definitely a game I was aware of, and I'll often talk about the two games in the same breath — though my goal was less trying to get actual research done (way cool) and more trying to get the *feel* of being a researcher."
If researchers get to sit around all day poking at simulated cells while the most lovely, melancholy piano music plays in the background, then I'd say mission accomplished. The mellow music offsets the game's difficulty, transforming what might have been a frustrating experience into a relaxing exploration of the microbial world.
Splice is an incredibly enjoyable experience, and I'm not the only one that thinks so; the game brought home the Best Puzzle Game award in the Level Up 2011 Intel Visual Adrenaline Game Demo Challenge, earning a spot on display at the Nokia Theater at the E3 Video Games Live concert on June 6. That's also, incidentally, when the game goes up for preorder on Steam (hint, hint).
Splice Official Website [Cipher Prime]