From its opening cutscene, you know Divide By Sheep isn’t a boring, old, or ordinary math game. Turns out the Grim Reaper is lonely and wants some of the cute, cuddly animals above him to come down and be his pets. In order to stop him, you must move sheep and other animals between islands, occasionally knocking some into the water or even slicing them up into bits. Your goal is to get specific numbers of animals onto a raft where they can be taken to safety away from the Reaper’s bony hands.
It might not sound like a math game at all, but here’s how it works. In each level a different number of animals will be scattered across islands of a specific size. All of the animals on a given island will hop together as a group. Besides the different numbers of animals, the islands also vary in how many animals they can hold. You use these two factors to get the correct number of animals onto the raft. For example, if the game asks for three sheep and you have five, you can hop the sheep to an island that will only hold three sheep. The two extra sheep will take the plunge into the water, but now you’ve got the number of sheep you need.
The difficulty ramps up by adding other elements and obstacles for you to work around. The first of these is wolves. If sheep hop onto an island with wolves, the wolves will eat them—one sheep for every wolf. The wolves that have eaten sheep will not move off their island. For example if there are four wolves on an island and you hop three sheep onto that island, three of the wolves will eat the sheep, while the other wolf remains mobile.
The game gets a little bit gory with the addition of a laser wall that will slice any animals that go through it in half. There is blood and the sheep parts look dead, but it’s a very cartoony. It reminded me of the level of gore you would see in the Happy Tree Friends cartoons. And the sliced-up sheep can be put back together on the raft if you get the right number of parts on there.
The great thing about Divide By Sheep is that you’re learning math, but the game doesn’t feel like an educational game. I found the puzzle-solving to be quite fun. The later levels offer plenty of challenge for adults as well as kids. And there are lots of levels included. Similar to Angry Birds, there are a few different worlds with 30 levels a piece. It’s enough to keep you subtly learning math for a long time.