Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: Go To Gold for iPhone and iPad

What drew me to Go To Gold by Timur Nigmetzianov was its very nice graphics. I didn't expect that the puzzles would be even better.

I downloaded this game while it was free for a day, and promptly tweeted about it. Make sure to follow me to not lose these opportunities!
Go To Gold is based on the classic Sokoban puzzle, so it doesn't need many explanations. It has however some aces up its sleeve in terms of originality.

But first, the basic rules, in case you don't know them. Your goal is to move some blocks to the indicated positions on the board. You can move the blocks only by pushing them, not pulling; and you can push only one block at a time.

The first level helps getting acquainted with the mechanics and controls, but it also shows what this game is not: it is not one of those games that hold the player by their hand with an endless series of trivial puzzles at the beginning, fearful to scare away the less confident players.

No, here we start with a puzzle which, while very easy, still requires a fair amount of work.
And then the second level already requires a lot more work. At this point, I was already hooked.
What I like about the selection of puzzles in this game is that they are compact, don't contain many objects, but they are very satisfying to play. There aren't many levels in total—they are 64 divided in four groups of 16—but each one provides its own challenge, and after playing the game for a week I'm still fighting through it. Most of the levels are requiring me multiple sittings, because I just can't figure them out. The a-ha! moments when I finally see how it's possible to navigate around the seemingly impossible position are some of the best ones I've experienced in a while.

I found logic to be very useful in approaching these puzzles. The tight spaces mean that there is very little freedom of movement, and in most cases even getting a block on its goal and out of the way doesn't make things any easier. It helps to think backwards from the goal position: there is often only one way to push a block onto a goal tile, which gives valuable hints on what needs to be done before.

I would be happy just having this kind of puzzles for the whole game, because they are that good. But the author has done more: there are four different settings, with slightly different rules.

In the second group, the blocks are colored, and each one needs to go to the goal of the same color.
In the third group, there are no clear goal positions. Instead, your objective is to use some mirrors to reflect a beam of light and make it hit a certain block.
In the last group, there are colored walls which need to be lowered by pushing blocks over the corresponding colored buttons.
Also, extra points for making all levels playable from the start. No frustration if you get stuck on a level: just try another one.

As can be seen from the screenshots, the graphics are very well done. The animations are very good too, and the music is on the same level. This is really an excellent presentation, possibly the best I've seen for a Sokoban game.

My initial reaction to the controls was that your man moves a bit too slow, and it's tiring to have to swipe for every step.
In Sokoban puzzles, how you walk around isn't really important, the only thing that matters is which sides of the blocks you can reach and push. Therefore, some games have implemented interfaces where you just tap where you want to go and the character moves automatically.
However, I must say that the controls grew on me after a while. Swiping requires less precision, so it's easier to play one handed. Also, the game intelligently queues every swipe you make, so you can issue multiple commands quickly and then wait for the character to complete them. I just wish that he moved a bit faster.

I consider this one of the best puzzles games of the year and I strongly recommend it for the quality of its levels.


Summary

Nontrivialness★★★★☆
Logical Reasoning★★★★★
User Interface★★★☆☆
Presentation★★★★★
Loading Time★★★★☆
Saves Partial Progress
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©2014 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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