They Need to be Fed is, aside from being a mouthful to remember and say, a gravity-based puzzle platformer. Only in this case, gravity doesn't necessarily apply in the way you feel that it should. Rather, each little centre of mass — the blocks from which the player's avatar needs to leap — seems to have its own gravitational pull, its own sense of "down".
I wasn't sure about this colourful, cheerful-looking game when I first downloaded it and booted it up. The first level didn't capture my attention, but I decided to try the second and see if it improved. One classic double-take later, I realised I'd been hunched over my phone, playing, for a solid half hour.
The controls are simple: a left arrow, a right arrow, and a jump button. Combined with that 360-degree sense of gravity, they're all you need to take a shadowy little monster through a level of rotating shapes, capturing diamonds along the way. You can't accidentally jump into the abyss, thanks to the gravitational pull from blocks, but you can jump into a variety of spikes and other deadly obstacles. Happily, the game is forgiving of such missteps, with checkpoints in longer levels and an almost-immediate respawn.
Perhaps the most oddly entertaining feature of They Need to Be Fed, however, is the "they" in question. The title refers not to the rounded little avatars the player controls but, rather, to their final reward. After successfully navigating a level full of gravitationally dubious rotating platforms and spiked deathtraps, the ultimate goal... is to be eaten. Devoured, whole and greedily, by an equally shadowy sharp-toothed monster.
There's something appealing about this cartoonish final savagery, and combined with the just-complicated-enough platforming and the just-clever-enough thought required to manoeuvre a level, making sure that They get fed is silly, absorbing, straightforward fun.
They Need To Be Fed [Android Market]
They Need To Be Fed [iTunes App Store]