Splut is an iPad implementation by Christophe Todts of an original online abstract strategy title, which sees 2-4 players battle against each other, aiming to wipe out their opponents’ teams by lobbing a rock onto their wizards with their stonetroll.
As can be deduced from that, Splut has a light fantasy theme: although the abstract nature of the gameplay and graphics make this largely irrelevant. What we have at the core of Splut is a thoughtful and tactical game of trying to outmaneuver the other players in a title which – once its rules and mechanics are understood – is a fun challenge for fans of the genre.
Splut is played on a geometric diamond-shaped board, with players starting off at opposite points. Each player has three pieces at their disposal, each of which can carry out a different move. The dwarf can shunt other pieces out of the way; the wizard can levitate nearby rocks and move them along; whilst the stonetroll can drag rocks and – crucially – throw them at opposing wizards.
Like the king in chess, the wizard is the piece you must protect. Make a careless move and a stonetroll-lobbed rock will come crashing down on top of his head, spelling game over for that player. Although the wizard is vulnerable, the stonetrolls can protect him by standing in front of him, blocking any low-flying rocks which may come speeding towards them. Dwarves can push vulnerable wizards out the way: but are too short to stop the rocks: so like some fantasy-themed game of Rock, Scissors, Paper, you must always bear in mind what your pieces can and can’t do – and which ones are at risk from others.
Although the four rocks on the board start off behind each line of player-controlled pawns, any player can pick up any rock, making tactics easy to change on the fly if the one your stonetroll had its eye on is levitated or thrown away by an opponent. And with the full complement of four players, the care required to ensure your wizard is protected at all times multiplies, increasing the challenge of Splut considerably.
Splut is a nice game to look at, with a classic abstract chess-set feel to it. The pawns are represented by symbols rather than pictures; the rocks by metallic spheres; and the board has a pleasing marble texture. Care has obviously been taken here to design a game which looks good as well as plays good.
Unfortunately, the biggest point against Splut is its lack of computer-controlled opponents. Strictly a game to be played against other humans (who, thanks to the lack of online play, must be in the same room as you too), Splut misses an opportunity to appeal to abstract boardgame fans on the go.
The game is still well implemented for human players though, with an easy and clear to follow layout and control mechanism. But unless you have a fellow (and willing) gamer to hand, the rocks of Splut may lie there gathering moss when they could have been rolling.
Splut is an original and intriguing title with a surprising amount of tactical depth, especially as the number of players increases. Its lack of AI or online options limit its longevity, however, and we hope this is addressed in a future update.