Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: Qvoid for iPhone and iPad

Qvoid is a wonderfully presented puzzle game by +Raimon Zamora. The care and polish that has been put into it is unbelievable.

It was originally released in 2011, but has been updated several times and has now become free.
You control a smiling cube. The cube rolls over the playing area, beautifully animated, and when it ends over a colored tile, it picks up that color on one of its faces. Interestingly, after you've picked up a color, your moves are limited because the colored face can only touch a tile of the same color. When that happens, both colors disappear. Match all tiles, and the puzzle is solved.
You can pick up more than one color at a time, which will limit your movements even more. There's even an achievement to be earned if you can solve a puzzle picking up 6 colors at once.

Puzzles that use a rolling solid for their mechanics often tend to have large levels which take too long to solve, simply because they are large, not because they are difficult.
Qvoid doesn't make that mistake: the puzzles are small, but this doesn't make them trivial; on the contrary, the small space and the limiting game mechanics mean that you always have to use your head, especially if you try to solve them in the optimal number of moves.
If you make a mistake there's support for multiple undo, though not for redo. The undo animation is very well done, showing noise bars like a rewinding videotape (do young players of today still know what that was?).

As the puzzles progress, the game adds many additional elements to the base mechanics.
In some levels, you have to mix colors. For example, pick up yellow and blue on the same face to make it green.
An interesting addition is tiles with a number of them. Those need to be matched multiple times, and you can't pick them up while there's a number on them.
Another element which significantly influences the mechanics is bridges; those tiles that can only be passed on once, and then disappear.
Teleports introduce another major change to the gameplay. Not only they move you from one place to another, but you must step on them with a face of the same color, which complicates things even more.
Rotating tiles will turn the cube by 90 degrees every time you step on them.
Moving tiles take you across gaps (they only move when you step on them; there's no arcade action involved).
There's a total of 184 puzzles, split into 8 groups. Most groups get unlocked as you earn enough stars, except for the Bonus II group which seems to be unlockable only though an in-app purchase.
Two of the groups are called Intro I and Intro II, because they were originally included in Qvoid Intro, which is no longer available on the App Store.
Inside a group, you are encouraged to play puzzles in sequence, but if you get stuck on a puzzle there's the option to skip it and unlock the next one (for free). Or, you can use a single in-app purchase and just unlock everything.

What more can I say? This is one of the best thought out puzzle games I've ever seen. It is thoroughly enjoyable, fun both for casual playing and for deep thinking, and has a marvellous presentation. Last but not least, it has unbeatable value for money, since it's currently free. There are no excuses to not download it immediately.

Summary

Nontrivialness★★★★☆
Logical Reasoning★★★★☆
User Interface★★★★☆
Presentation★★★★★
Loading Time★★★★★
Saves Partial Progress
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©2013 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmoria and nontrivialgames.blogspot.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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