Pop the Lock Review

Pop the Lock Review

Oct 14, 2015

Simple does it. One won’t be surprised that we use that word several times in describing Pop the Lock.

As it is, the gameplay is remarkably easy to grasp. It starts with the visual presentation; this one is played in portrait, with deliberate background colors that don’t distract too much from the primary focus, which is in the middle of the playing area.ptl3

Nestled in said center is a virtual padlock. It’s a simple graphical affair, and likened to your basic combination-type lock with a circular barrel. There is a yellow dot that appears somewhere on the black circular track on the outside of the barrel.

Also on this black band, strategically “behind” the yellow dot, is a red tagger. Tapping on the padlock activates it, and the basic idea is to stop it dead on the yellow dot by tapping a second time. Not a millimeter early or late, or it’s a fail. On the surface, it’s simple enough: tap to start, tap to stop. One needs good hand-eye coordination and super quick reflexes. Easy… lock is popped.

Except the challenge gets harder.

After getting the first one (which matches the number in the middle of the lock), the next step is to to make two stops. Now, the first yellow dot appears, and, assuming one is successful, another dot appears almost immediately, and the red tagger starts moving towards it immediately. As such, one has to react quickly, with no idea where the subsequent yellow dot is going to be.

And yes, finish level 2, and then level 3 demands three quick tap scenarios, and on and on. The true challenge is in the alternate directions the yellow dots force the tagger to go to. Again, it is such a simple concept, but provides plenty of value as a time waster.

It’s a lot of the same yes, which has its pros and cons. In the end, being an intuitive game makes it worth a try.

Lex Review

Lex Review

Jul 1, 2014

Since the dawn of hangman, people have been obsessed with word games. Most word games often put focus on creating the longest word or the word that uses the less common letters.

Where Lex differs is that it puts the onus on quickly finding words. If you’re to get anywhere with Lex you need to break the habit of showing off your vocabulary and instead you need to learn to be satisfied with typing out the word ‘cat’.Lex2

The reason for this is simple. A set of tiles fill the bottom of the screen and each tile has a letter on it. Like traditional word games, these letters have a numerical value to them but unlike word games they also have a timer attached to them.

The letter tiles will fill up with a red hue. How fast they turn completely red depends on how common they are. For example, vowels seem to have the quickest timer, presumably because they’re the ‘easiest’ to use and should be put into action sooner. If you let one tile fill up with red completely, it’s game over.

Incredibly simple as the game is, it really took me some time to get over the desire to want to spell out a fancy long word. My years of watching Countdown (it’s a British TV show – Google it) have ingrained a desire for me to only settle for 9 letter words. As mentioned before though, you’ve got to get over that. Carol Vorderman (she was the co-host of Countdown – Google her) isn’t watching you play the game, so there’s no need to impress.

This gloriously simple premise is then refined by some initially soothing presentation. A calm ambient track lulls you into thinking you have all the time in the world but as you reach the higher scores the bass drum will kick in and this will only add to the tensions as tiles fill up faster than ever. The game suggests it’s ‘Best played with headphones’. This would normally cause me to roll my eyes but in this case soft ambient soundtrack could be lost without some in-ear audio.

Adding to the ambiance is the visuals. A really nice touch is that as you press on each tile to make your word the corresponding letter starts to fill the background in an effective kaleidoscopic way.

In summary, Lex is dead simple, extremely well presented and doesn’t do anything majorly different from other word games. It’s this slight difference that somehow manages to make all the difference. Well worth your time and well worth plugging your headphones in for. Just brush up on your 3 letter words beforehand.