Review: Sheep

If you had asked me a month ago whether or not I’d play a game about herding sheep, I would probably have said no. After all, how much fun could that be, right? Well, as it turns out, herding sheep is actually a lot more fun than you’d expect.

In Sheep, you take control of a herder, whose task it is to guide a flock of sheep from the beginning of a level to the end. Of course, it’s not that simple, as each level is chocked full of nasty enemies and traps designed to kill sheep in the most imaginative ways possible.

The game features a total of seven worlds. Each world is built around a particular theme. You’ve got a farm, a medieval faire, a space station, a candy factory, a dinosaur playground, and even a nightclub. Each world is composed of four levels, and in order to successfully complete a level, you have to rescue a minimum number of sheep.

Each level oozes creativity, and at no time does the game feel repetitive. Not only do you have to guide the sheep past dangerous obstacles, but you’ve also got to solve puzzles. For the most part, this means herding sheep onto buttons in order to open gates, but there are some more creative puzzles in there.

As you go through a level you’ll come across machines that will provide your sheep with disguises that help them live longer, and there are also a variety of power-ups that making herding easier, like the aphrodisiac, which ensures that the sheep stay close to you. Perhaps a little too close.

Another cool thing about the level design is that most levels also have multiple paths to the exit, and observant gamers may be able to find shorter, safer routes through the level.

There are also bonus mini-games that can be unlocked by collecting golden sheep. These mini-games are vastly different from the regular levels, and are without exception a blast to play. Examples include variants of Pac Man, Snake, Space Invaders and even a racing game.

In terms of presentation, the game is excellent. The graphics are cute and endearing. The music is a blend of island beats and modern techno rhythms. The sound effects are equally entertaining. While there is much sheep-related carnage, there is no gore, keeping the game safely within the ‘E’ rating.

There are down sides to the game, though. Each level features a tight time limit, which gives you just enough time to complete the level, provided you don’t screw up too much. However, the sheep are incredibly stupid, and are patently suicidal, which makes for a difficult trek across the map. These two factors in combination make for an extremely frustrating time. There will be times when you want to hurl your controller against the wall, and you’ll be replaying levels dozens of times. The flip side of this frustration, is that when you finally complete a level, it becomes such a rush, that you just want to jump right into the next one. It’s a feeling similar to when you stood up to the bully in elementary school, and won.