Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: LYNE for iPhone and iPad

As often happens for good puzzle games, one of my first thoughts while playing Lyne by Thomas Bowker was: why hadn't anybody thought of this before?
More precisely, since I've been thinking about path puzzles for several weeks now, my thought was why hadn't I thought of this?

The idea is indeed pretty simple. You have a grid of shapes. Draw paths that go over all the identical shapes, starting and ending over the highlighted ones.
You can move at 45 degrees angles too, but when doing so the path must not intersect itself.
So far, so good. There wouldn't be much to do using just these rules, so we'll add octagons to the mix.
What's special about the octagons is that the paths must go through them two or three times, depending on the number of dots inside the octagon. Also, the same path can go through the same octagon multiple times, but it must do so through different routes.

Finally, two colors are boring, so we can have three.
The game contains an unclear amount of built-in puzzles; they are grouped in packs of 25. When you complete a pack, further packs are unlocked. So far I've unlocked pack F, which looks like it could be the last one, onless the pack selection screen starts scrolling.

Update: it does start scrolling :-)
The puzzles start out very easy, but as the size and number of octagons increases, it can take a few attempts to find a solution. Here is what they look like in pack F.
Note that I said "a" solution, because solutions aren't necessarily unique. For example, the above puzzle has at least these two solutions:
Since a path can self intersect, the solutions cannot be unique in terms of the order of the segments, because the path after an intersection can be travelled in both directions. I was, however, hoping that at least the shape of the path was unique.
Unfortunately this isn't the case, so finding a solution will be more a matter of intuition or trial and error than pure logic.

Additionally to unlocking new puzzle sets, you should also be able to unlock new palettes. I haven't gotten that far yet, however.

Update: I got that far, and there are actually at least 12 palettes, requiring to solve an increasing number of packs.

If the built-in packs aren't enough, the game will also randomly generate two new packs every day.

Sound is very atmospheric, with tunes procedurally generated as you draw the path, and lots of reverb.

I have to note how abysmally long the loading time is on my 4th gen iPod. It takes well over a minute to get past the splash screen. This is unacceptable and will hopefully be fixed in a future update.

Currently the price is $2.99, which is quite expensive compared to most of the other puzzle apps. It's not that you aren't getting your money's worth, because there's lots of content plus the daily random packs, but it's essentially more of the same with no changes to gameplay, so it could get boring after a while.

Get it now if you are fond of this kind of path drawing mechanics, otherwise I'd wait for a price drop and, most importantly, a fix to the loading issue.


Summary

Nontrivialness★★★★☆
Logical Reasoning★★☆☆☆
User Interface★★★☆☆
Presentation★★★★☆
Loading Time★☆☆☆☆
Saves Partial Progress
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