Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: Woven for iPhone and iPad

Woven by Eilean Design was released just a few days after the very similar Strata, but is different enough to deserve its own review.
Interestingly, when Tom Cutrofello reviewed this game on his blog, I commented saying that it is better than Strata because there isn't a mechanical way to solve the puzzles. I couldn't be farther from the truth. More on this later.

The goal in both games is the same: pull colored ribbons over the playing area, in such an order that the color of the top ribbon over each square is a given color. The crucial difference is this: in Strata, you choose the color of the ribbon, and you place it over a whole row/column at once. In Woven, the ribbons have predetermined colors and can be moved one step at a time; also, you can pull ribbons from both sides of each row/column, until they meet in the middle.

For example while solving this puzzle:
you could end up in this position, with an empty cell in the middle waiting to be filled.
The user interface mechanics have been well thought out. At any point, you can undo your moves simply by pulling a ribbon back. When you move it forward again, it will go over the existing ribbons as if it was a new move. This works very well and avoids small errors causing a frustration.

The only awkward thing is that to quit a puzzle you need to bring up a menu by double tapping the screen. This is explained in the tutorial, but easily forgotten.

There also appears to be a bug with the finger tracking, because dragging a ribbon across the whole screen doesn't work properly: the ribbon lags behind, moving slower than the finger, so you need two swipes to complete the move. Hopefully this will be fixed in a future update.

There's about 200 puzzles included in the game, about half of which are free. The sizes vary; larger puzzles look like this:
They might look intimidating at first glance, but as I said at the beginning, there is a mechanical way to approach them.

SPOILER ALERT don't read past this line if you want to solve the puzzles yourself.


Since you can move one step at a time, the way to solve these puzzles is to literally weave your way through them, one cell at a time, starting from the corners and going towards the center.
For example let's take this puzzle:
What you need to do is find a corner where at least one of the neighboring ribbons matches the color of the dot. Drag both ribbons over the cell in the appropriate corner, and continue. For example in this case we can start form the top left corner:
If all ribbons bordering a cell are the wrong color, it means you'll have to reach that cell from the opposite side: leave it for later and go to another corner. In many cases, this is all you have to do to solve the puzzle. Occasionally, you could reach a position where the strategy can't be applied, and a little more thought is required, like this one:
But in general you should easily run through the puzzles with no particular problems.

As trivial as that may be, I found the solving process relaxing. This is the kind of puzzles that you can solve semi-mechanically, while thinking about something else. Don't approach this game expecting a challenge, but definitely give it a try: it's free anyway.


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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