Somewhere between the brilliant original and 2015’s Magic, Cut the Rope lost its gusto. Maybe it’s just what happens when you become one of the most iconic series on a platform that is becoming harder and harder to get noticed on, or maybe it’s the side effect of releasing five games in as many years (six, if you count the smaller Holiday Treat, not to mention the various ports and spinoffs). Whatever the cause, Cut the Rope Magic seems to signal that the developers at ZeptoLab are currently at a loss where to take the series.
It sounds like the logical next step on paper. Having already covered wacky experiments and time travel, dropping the ever adorable Om Nom into a world of sorcery should provide all sorts of new ways to play with a formula that was already perfected back in 2010, when we were first introduced to the candy loving alien frog creature. And yet, Magic lacks any of the inspiration and creative that made Cut the Rope such a hit. Its new ideas, both good and bad, are unfocused and underutilized, from the clever ghost power up which causes objects to pass through Om Nom to the obnoxious boss “fights” which pit you against a magnet like wizard out to steal your candy. Whatever cool mechanics Magic brings to the table are wasted on puzzles that fail to use them in any interesting way, often resolving to simpler designs that focus more on exact timing rather than logical conundrums.
Cut the Rope has in the past done an incredible job balancing these two sides to make a game that at its best requires you use your brain as much as your fingers, but Magic does little more than tease you with puzzles that could be great but play it far too safe. There’s the sense that Cut the Rope is almost scared to challenge the player, as if it (perhaps justifiably) assumes that if someone gets stumped by a puzzle they will simply drop the game never to return. It’s a sad reality of mobile game development that often games will be cut short of their full potential for the sake of getting a foothold in an ephemeral market, but with Magic the attempt to cater toward an even more casual player base turns it into a chore.
I have been in love with Cut the Rope since I got my first touch device so many years ago. It was the first game I played on a smartphone and the one that forever sold me on the merits of touch based game design, but where that game represented the peak of a then emerging platform, Magic is little more than another entry in a series I haven’t heard discussed in a very long time. I suppose it’s safe to say the magic just isn’t here anymore.
"Quick Thoughts" is a subset of my normal reviews for smaller games which might not fit into a full review but I still have something to say about.
Cut the Rope Magic was developed by ZeptoLab and is available on iOS and Android.