Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: Kuub for iPhone and iPad

Kuub by Wim Coosemans is a well designed tilt maze puzzle on the vein of Blockhouse.
Tile mazes are a well estabilished genre, and Kuub succeeds in adding new elements and ideas to keep the mechanics fresh and stimulating.

The basic goal is to bring the blocks, which move at your command, over the circles, which don't move. You can move in any direction, but when you do, all blocks move in that direction and travel until they hit an obstacle. Note that the goals are obstacles too, for blocks of a different color. When a block touches its goal, the block disappears.
Unlike Blockhouse, you don't have to bring all the blocks over their goal position at the same time; in most cases you wouldn't be able even if you wanted to.

The recurring elements of most of the puzzles are the gray, neutral blocks. They move like the other blocks, but don't have a goal and are only there to act as moving obstacles.
You might have noticed that every puzzle has a title, shown in the top left corner. This is a nice touch and increases the perceived quality of the puzzles.

The neutral blocks can be larger than 1x1, something which is used to great effect in many of the puzzles.
My favorite element is force fields. Those are squares that can only be crossed by blocks of the same color. I liked the similar feature in Membrane, but in this game it's used to even grater effect. I particularly liked this puzzle, which makes good use of the force fields peculiarities.
The game has bombs too, but luckily not of the exploding kind. They are really just a way to make the goal slightly different, since in this case you have two moving blocks instead of a moving block and a fixed goal; but when you make them touch, they just disappear without destroying what's nearby.
In some puzzles you can also combine blocks to change their color. You need to be careful not to combine the wrong blocks.
The final element is magnets. Those are cells that temporarily stop a block which passes over them, but only if it's of the same color.
As an aside, the position shown above seems unwinnable to me. In some cases the game warns you when that happens (as in the color merging example shown earlier), but it looks like it doesn't always do that. So be careful and restart the puzzle if you think you are stuck.

There's a total of 72 puzzles, split in 6 chapters; you have to solve the levels in each chapter in sequence, but the chapters are all unlocked from the beginning.

The level design is good and varied. I didn't find most of them particularly challenging, but in many cases you really need to think and use logic to plan a strategy, otherwise you'll get nowhere.

The graphics are nice too, which isn't all that common in this kind of games. The major shortcoming is the lack of Game Center integration. Since the game keeps track of your total number of moves, it would be nice to compare with other people. Hopefully this will be fixed soon!

This is an enjoyable puzzle game, which is fun to play and doesn't get boring thanks to the varied mechanics. Certainly recommended.


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