Imagine you’re a security guard and one day on your night shift you accidentally break an ancient Egyptian golden idol and cause the curse of Bastet on you and a cat that happens to be nearby. Well imagine no longer as that is the exact plot of 9 Lives: Casey and Sphinx, a new puzzle adventure game from Hungry Moose Games. You’ll need your wits about you and to be good with teamwork and fearless about dying if you want to get all the pieces of the idol back together before your 9 lives run out.
A Man and his Cat
Gameplay of 9 Lives: Casey and Sphinx revolve around those two named characters. Casey is the bumbling security guard tasked with the night shift and hates cats… Sphinx is the unlucky cat who happened to get transfixed to Casey when the idol broke and the curse of Bastet was released. So you have these two characters, a man and his cat, of which you swap between to solve all sorts of puzzles. Each character has its advantages. For instance Sphinx can walk on green mist that Casey falls through, can dig dirt, climb walls and of course fit into smaller places. Whereas Casey is heavier so can push things, beat up mummies, has a flashlight to stun ghosts and other things. Most puzzles will have you using both in conjunction to get things done. For instance using Casey as a stepping stone for Sphinx to get to higher places or using Sphinx to clear a passage for Casey to take. Interestingly if you have a friend with the game you can set it up so one of you plays Casey and the other Sphinx which solves the back and forth problem I had. A huge part of the puzzling aspect of 9 Lives: Casey and Sphinx is centered around this duel balance.
Don’t Fear the Reaper
The other big aspect of gameplay in general and in the puzzle solving capacity is in the 9 lives. Everyone knows that cats have 9 lives and now that Casey and Sphinx are intertwined (Casey is actually slowly turning into a cat due to the curse), he has 9 lives too. What this means is you can die and still have 8 other chances. Better yet is your body still stays there. You may know where I’m going with this but basically certain puzzles require you to die to get through. One good example is a long line of spikes may require you to die a few times to provide a body bridge across. Note that after a big puzzle there are special idols that restore your 9 lives so it is not like the 9 lives are for the whole entire game.
While reading comments and Google Play reviews on 9 Lives: Casey and Sphinx a lot of people liked the graphics and said they reminded them of old puzzle games from the N64 era. I could agree based on the chunky 3D graphics alone but I do suppose that I see where they are coming from. While 9 Lives: Casey and Sphinx is 3D characters in a 2D world it is reminiscent of the “golden age” of platform puzzles I would say. And speaking of the puzzles they are not the easiest to figure out. Even starting at level one I found the puzzles to be very intricate and with a decent difficulty. Some of my problems I would say are due to improper camera control and not seeing items or switches really but as a whole I’d say the level design is well made.
Worth the Hassle?
I will come out and say it, I found the price of 9 Lives: Casey and Sphinx to be kind of a lot for what it is… $2.99 for a fairly generic puzzle adventure game that still has some in app purchases is a little too much in my opinion when I can get games of the same type and same quality for less. I suppose my opinion is also based on the fact that I had a few issues overall with the game. The biggest was just the hassle of managing the two characters. Having to swap back and forth got old quick especially when you have ghosts and movable enemies around so Casey is never truly safe (even with his flashlight). The other issue is the lack of camera control which really bogged down gameplay for me. Lastly I hate that you have to finish the whole long episode levels or else have to start at the very beginning…very annoying. Overall, 9 Lives: Casey and Sphinx is a decent puzzle adventure game and has some good mechanics but not sure if it’s really worth the price…