Save the woolly ones in Oh! Sheep

Oh! Sheep is a new iOS game from Chinese developer Hortor Soft. It’s available now as a free Universal download from the App Store, with additional in-app purchases to unlock the full set of levels and acquire in-game currency.

Oh! Sheep is a line-drawing puzzle game in which the player is tasked with leading the titular sheep to their destination as efficiently as possible. Exits from the level may be one of several colors, and only sheep who match that color may leave the level that way. In order to change the color of a sheep, the player must direct them to eat a colored berry, at which point they immediately and permanently change to the new color — or at least until they eat another berry.

As the player progresses through the levels, new challenges start to present themselves, with one of the most frequently-used obstacles being colored gates and matching switches. Like the exit portals, only sheep of the appropriate color may work a switch, at which point a gate of the corresponding hue will open or close somewhere else in the level for as long as the sheep remains atop the button. Levels quickly become a case of determining the most efficient way to solve the puzzle, as the player’s performance is rated according to how quickly they reached a successful solution, how efficiently they used their moves and how many coins they managed to pick up along the way. Up to three “stars” are available on each level for those who complete the level in the “best” possible way.

Stars are converted to diamonds, one of the two in-game currencies which may also be acquired via in-app purchase. Diamonds are primarily used to purchase either solutions or skips for difficult levels, but may also be used to play the “roulette” minigame, with the potential of additional rewards. Roulette may be played twice per day for free; additional spins cost three diamonds.

The game’s other currency of coins is primarily used to refresh which levels have treasure chests hidden in them, and the prizes on offer on the roulette wheel. The chests contain currency rewards and are located on random levels that change every two hours — though the timer may be bypassed by expending 50 coins. Coins are acquired simply by picking them up in the levels or may also be produced from diamonds.

While Oh! Sheep’s monetization through its in-game currency is likely to allow it to turn a reasonable profit on top of its $0.99 “full game unlock” fee, it’s hard to shake the feeling that it is monetization for monetization’s sake rather than a feature that particularly adds anything meaningful to the experience. Expending currency seems to simply provide the means to earn more currency — there does not appear to be any form of in-game shop to purchase visual customizations or other vanity items, so the pursuit of “riches” is ultimately fairly meaningless.

Despite this, however, Oh! Sheep is a well-designed, well-presented game that works well as a quick-fire puzzle challenge. The levels get difficult — but not unreasonably so — very quickly, and there is a significant amount of content even in the basic free version. An individual level takes less than a minute to complete, but there’s enough on offer for those who like more in the way of a challenge to sit down for a longer session if they so desire. Unnecessary monetization aside, it’s a good example of a game that has been designed well for mobile devices.

As a new release, Oh! Sheep is not yet listed on the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.