Even Up Review

Even Up Review

Nov 12, 2013

Different people play puzzle games for different reasons. Some of them like the challenge, solving the difficult riddles. Others like the calmness of thinking their way through the level, with nothing to disturb the meditation-like state of watching at the motionless board. For me, the interest is in learning. When I play the game for several hours, I begin to notice specific patterns of where to make the next move, or how to solve the puzzle as fast as possible. Not because I like challenges, it’s just fun to notice how you get better at something, and the puzzles provide a great opportunity to see it. To be fair, I didn’t like Even Up at first, for its absolute simplicity, and repetitive levels, but as I played it, it started to become more and more interesting, for the very reason that you do become better and better at it, while it becomes more and more challenging.

Each level of Even Up contains a tiled play-field with several orange blocks on it. Each block has a certain number on it, Even Up 2marking its level. The blocks of the same level can be combined together, if they share the same line or row, and don’t have any other blocks in the way. When two blocks are combined, they become a block of a higher level. For example, if you have two blocks with the number “2” on them in the same row, you can swipe the lower one up, or the higher one down, and they’ll mix into one block with number “3”. The goal of every level is to leave a single block on the field. The level packs are unlocked after a certain number of levels is completed, and differ by the size of the field and its difficulty.

Even Up doesn’t really have much content or variety, and presents the player with pleasant, but dry graphics and sound. To be fair, I didn’t really mind it. The game is original and engaging, and it’s everything a great puzzle has to have. There are plenty of levels that are mostly easy to solve, but do contain some challenges. Luckily, the game is undemanding, and allows the player to undo every move, or restart without any penalties. Even Up is a small, but wholly enjoyable little game.

Kilka Card Gods Review

Kilka Card Gods Review

Oct 21, 2013

Kilka Card Gods is a puzzle game with cards, and is quite different from the others like it. Usually, the words “puzzle game with cards” mean something very unoriginal and filled with in-app transactions, but not this time. Although it’s not quite perfect, Kilka Card Gods has a very interesting concept, and a fair, if ad-riddled, gameplay. It’s free-to-play status is mostly sustained by the ads that pop up here and there, and although they are quite annoying, the levels required some skills, and not a bank account to complete.

The story in Kilka Card Gods is somewhat bizarre. The hero is Yupanki, a world champion in Kilka. To spare some confusion, Kilka is actually the name of the card puzzle that the game is about. So, as a world champion, instead of getting dough and swag all around, Yupanki has to guard some stupid stone structure that grants its user awesome card-related superpowers. But the first day on the job goes sour, as the slabs that make up the doodad get stolen by none others than card gods themselves. The question of whether or not the doodad should actually belong to them in the first place, is left unanswered. In any case, it’s his, and our, job now to retrieve them by defeating the gods in the game of Kilka.

Kilka Card Gods 3In Kilka, there’s a tiled play field with card suits drawn on them, a number of different card values for every column and row on the field, and a number of cards on the right. The player needs to fill the field with given cards, placing cards with correct suit and value on the positions. A time limit signifies how many stars the player gets for completing the level, with right answers and combos adding bonus time, and wrong placements subtracting from it. Certain card gods also have special powers that influence the playfield, while the player can activate hints and various powers to help himself. As difficult as Kilka Card Gods can become, with more and more fields and cards required to complete, I managed to solve every puzzle for at least two stars, so I think it’s possible to complete it all by yourself. It doesn’t mean that there are no issues, as every level has only one solution, for example, and you can still get penalized if the placed card seems to match all requirements.

To wrap up, I found Kilka Card Gods pretty interesting. It’s a fresh concept, and there are no visible problems to spoil it. It’s a fine puzzle, for the people who like Sudoku and half-naked Mayan gods.

Flowdoku Review

Flowdoku Review

Sep 4, 2013

Most of my university was spent playing Sudoku – at least when I wasn’t playing my PSP, of course. I pride myself to be quite a skilful player, and the logic behind Sudoku is planted firmly into my brain matter, no matter how hard useful knowledge and skills try to kick it out. Most of the Sudoku-themed games on the mobiles are straightforward ports of the original Japanese game – mostly because of its very unique rules, which every mathematician can drool over for eternity. So it pains me to announce that I completely suck at Flowdoku – a game that takes standard Sudoku rules, adds a bit of spices, and puts it on its head.

Flowdoku 2The rules of Flowdoku are simple – oh, who am I kidding, they’re not. Although the idea is easy to grasp, the rules are a bit strange, so many of the logic behind solving classic Sudoku simply doesn’t work. As in Sudoku, there’s a square field, filled with square spaces, which are grouped together in some way or another. In the simplest example, the field is 6×6 tiles wide, divided by groups of 3×2. Instead of numbers, the field is filled with squares, triangles or circles – basically, instead of nine digits, there are only three. However, each group, line, and column should contain an exact number of each shape. In the simplest example I took, there should be three squares, two triangles and a sphere in each one of them. Furthermore, squares and triangles should always be placed next to each other, to form the groups of three – not in all directions, but anywhere. And that’s it. The rest is just like original Sudoku. There are already several positions filled at the start of the game, and by tapping on any empty space, player can switch what shape is in there.

As I said, I suck at Flowdoku. I’m getting stuck in the easy levels and guess around the place, without much results. Although I understand the concepts at work, I still can’t feel them – and it means that the game is quite challenging, and requires hours of gameplay in order for brain to see the patterns in it. Although Flowdoku doesn’t feature any, well, features, apart from the numerous levels of varying difficulty and two color schemes, its minimalistic approach to design is working perfectly, so the focus isn’t shifted from solving the puzzles themselves. I must warn that the game is quite difficult – so if sitting for half an hour upon a Sudoku puzzle doesn’t sound like much excitement, then this game will surely put you into the depths of despair pretty quickly.

U Plus Review

U Plus Review

Jan 9, 2012

It pleases me that logic games are popular. There is nothing wrong with a game’s sole purpose being for you to run as fast as you can while shooting things, but I do appreciate the elegance of some mental concentration leading to a solution. It takes time, and the ah-hah moment, to me, is worth a thousand combo-kill point bonuses. Naturally, when Sudoku exploded I was instantly hooked. I began carrying the puzzles around with me everywhere, because they are the perfect moment-filler. But eventually they became too easy, and I suppose I was waiting for something to take their place.
Enter: U+.

U+ (or UPlus Puzzle Game) is simple in concept and design, but don’t mistake simple in this case to mean easy. It is a math game, a problem-solving game. There are no bad guys, it’s just you versus yourself, as the clock reminds you as you play. The design of the game is meant to take you back in time to math class (which for me brings about some mild PTSD), when an equation was on the board and you were tasked to find the variables. Luckily (for me) there is no BEDMAS required; the puzzles are solved by addition only. Hence, according to the developers, the name U+ stands for “You plus”.

The equation is in place when you open a new puzzle. A puzzle is solved from left-to-right, but also top-to-bottom, with the final solution in the bottom right-hand corner. Below the puzzle is a collection of numbers as variables that must be placed in the puzzle. Like Sudoku, there is only one correct placement for each number. You will never have leftover numbers, and will never be able to solve a puzzle with even one variable out of place. When a variable is placed in the correct box you get a chime to indicate such, and a buzzer when it is wrong. If a placed variable completes a sub-equation, then the solution circle is lit up in green. An incorrectly placed variable will light that circle in red. Adding to the pressure of a speedy solution is the most frantic timer I have ever seen. The moment you place your first variable it begins to run up so quickly that it gives me heart palpitations. There is definitely nothing boring about this game.

An aspect of the game that I love is that the timer doesn’t begin until such time as you place your first number. This gives you some time to examine the puzzle and the variables before you officially begin, or togive yourself a chance to try to A Beautiful Mind some of the answers before you start the timer. It does add a small strategy element to a game that otherwise might be lacking one.

The improvements needed for future versions are few, but the game could use some. For instance, a selected variable does flash faintly when touched, but it could benefit from perhaps a brighter colour, so make it easier for the user to be sure which number they have tapped. As well, perhaps an Undo button would be useful, rather than having to tap each number multiple times to place and replace it. These are small tweaks, but the game would be hugely improved.