Empire Interactive’s game Sheep is a puzzle/strategy game that allows us to pull the wool away from over our eyes and seek the truth. Those seemingly innocent little lambs grazing out on the open fields are exposed in this game as being former genius beings from another planet.
The story goes that originally these highly intelligent aliens were sent here in disguise long ago to observe the earth’s inhabitants. Only over time these sheepish aliens lost sight of their mission and made a self-fulfilling prophecy into metamorphosing into the passive seemingly mindless creatures we think of today as sheep. The sheep’s alien ancestors have returned to earth to round up their wayward flocks. Not wanting to attract much notice from the folks of the Earth, the aliens recruit some earthlings and implant the desire in their heads of wanting to round up the sheep and bring them to Mount Mouflon so the herd can head back to their home planet.
The game itself begins with an opening movie that shows the sheep in their various odd habitats and hangouts. The film also features the recruitment of the earth beings who are meant to shepherd the sheep back to their alien relatives. The game has a training level, which allows you to get a feel for herding the sheep and for learning and perfecting the techniques of the shepherd’s trade.
This game can be played at three different levels of difficulty: easy, medium, and hard. The required number of sheep that must be saved increases with each difficulty level, and the time to save them decreases. The objective of this game is to get as many of the sheep through seven worlds as possible. The easy setting is the best place to start for the player since it allows you to have the most time to explore and get a feel for the game, so that you can later try the harder levels once you have your herding techniques more perfected.
Before beginning a level, the player must select one of four breed types of sheep in the game. Each breed has their own special characteristics and challenges for the herders. The player also must select which of the four herders they’d like to be. The herders consist of four characters (a lady, a man, and two dogs) who have their own distinct strengths and weaknesses in their personalities and sheep herding abilities.
There are seven worlds and 28 levels within the game. Each has their own theme such as an amusement park, disco club, or castle that the sheep are to be herded through. There are many amusing hazards throughout the game that the sheep and herder must overcome. From mad archers that will nail your sheep to the wall to evil sheep-eating monsters to F-14 airplanes that will land on your flock, there is a lot to look out for. Tricks of the game such as converters that equip the sheep with limited-duration tanks or flame-retardant suits give the little lambs a fighting chance to avoid being served with mint jelly.
Bonus points can also be earned by collecting all of the golden sheep statues in a given world. By collecting all of the golden sheep, the player is given access to bonus games to earn more points. The secret level keys are easy to acquire and once their the levels mostly follow the format of older arcade-type games, only with funny sheep instead of whatever you were expecting.
At first, I compared the game to Lemmings, where you are charged with saving a pack of mindless drones. But Sheep goes beyond this in several ways. For one, the sheep do think for themselves in some manner. They follow the herd mentality when together, moving as a group. But a random sheep by itself is very difficult to control, as their actions are more random.
Also, with Lemmings, the little critters moved on their own while you moved the world around. Sheep however, mostly will stand still if not prodded. So players have to take an active role in completing the level. This leads to a lot of nail biting, and a much more interactive experience.
This is quite an amusing game. The most frustrating thing I found about this game was trying to convince the sheep to follow my herder’s orders. Young children will probably grow frustrated quickly if not helped along by parents. Getting the sheep to move in the right direction is really hard, and even though it is funny, seeing their deaths can be upsetting.
I really liked the adorable graphics of this game (these sheep are too cute for words to give justice). Another good aspect of this game is that you won’t be quickly bored because it has such a variety of playing options within it such as playing with different sheep breeds (with their differing characteristics and abilities) in levels. And playing with a different main character can have different results as well.
The challenges and multiple themes of the different worlds allow the player to enjoy hours of sheep filled entertainment. I am giving this game 4 GiN Gems out of 5 for the sheep-shear entertainment of it.
Developers: Minds Eye
Platforms: PC, PlayStation