Full motion video (FMV) games are nothing new, but Cuttlefish revamps them in a way that spices up the immersion for players on mobile. The interactive game puts players in the shoes of infamous cat burglar Sammy (aka Cuttlefish) as they break into safes, steal diamonds, and outwit would-be pyramid scammers across a short-but-sweet 45-minute romp through a warehouse hideout.
But while Flavourworks’ TouchVideo technology is truly a marvel, does the game have enough going for it to make it worth the limited space on your mobile device?
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Right off the bat, you’ll be tasked with slicing through a glass case to nab a diamond the size of a rock, and it’s clear from the very beginning how the fun heist vibe will play out through the game. The family-friendly feel is evident not only in the energetic background music and the witty banter but also in the game’s theme, where Sammy has to head back home and reunite with her childhood friends to save her mum from a shady networking scheme called Frive.
The cinematography is indeed top-notch here, as everything from camera angles to lighting effects boast high-quality production value. The Cuttlefish herself is extremely likeable, due in large part to Catherine Garton’s stellar performance that mirrors the equally engaging acting prowess of the colorful cast around her. Even the extras do fabulous work here, so much so that I actually felt for random receptionists in a villainous lair or that conspiracy theorist dude who wanted nothing more than to see aliens in his lifetime.
That said, a protagonist is only ever as good as her antagonist, and scam artist Teddy does a fabulous job of thwarting the heroine. I don’t want to spoil the narrative for anyone, but suffice it to say that the story is engaging enough to make me want to wish I was watching an actual short film instead of playing a game.
THE GAMEPLAY OF CUTTLEFISH
This can be a double-edged sword, to be honest, as while it can mean that the plot is incredibly well-written, it also means that the gameplay itself isn’t all that engaging. Throughout the title, you’ll be swiping, tapping, and holding down on the screen to pick dialogue choices, duck behind boxes in stealth mode, and execute heist-y plans.
There’s also a nice little “bullet time”-esque feature where Sammy will close in on the environment around her to look for clues to get out of a sticky situation, similar to a Quick Time Event but without the quick time. The freeze-frame effect will give you the option to inspect certain items more closely, reminding me a little bit of Batman’s Detective Mode in Arkham games. You’ll pick whichever strategy you think will solve a particular problem, then watch as Sammy executes it in live action.
This adds a unique layer of immersion to typical choice-based games, but any decision you make is fine, really. Decisions don’t really make a huge difference, but I suppose it also feels pretty refreshing in the sense that there’s totally no pressure to get things right. It’s an enjoyable and stress-free adventure that’s high-stakes yet low-key at the same time, if that makes any sense.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL?
Having played Flavourworks’ ERICA on Steam two years ago, I had a pretty good impression of what I was getting into with Cuttlefish. But while ERICA was a murder mystery-slash-thriller, Cuttlefish is a more lighthearted adventure that feels more well-adapted on mobile. The intuitive controls are absolutely optimized on the touchscreen as well compared to the mouse, and the short runtime makes it ideal for on-the-go gamers that aren’t looking for anything too heavy or hardcore.
There isn’t much incentive to replay the whole thing here, however, as there’s also no quality-of-life feature that lets you skip through dialogues until the point where you’ll have to make a decision, unlike in other choice-based games. The story isn’t anything groundbreaking either, but it does offer a unique kind of gameplay experience that’s uncommon on mobile these days.