Monday, December 30, 2013

The Hardest Puzzle Apps of 2013

Nowadays, everyone is dumbing down their games to make them accessible to the largest number of people. However, during the past year, I still occasionally found some game which struck me as particularly hard.

I have compiled a short list of the games I consider most significant in that respect. If you are looking for a challenge, I guarantee that you will find something to sink your teeth into.

#4: Temple Trap

The first levels of this sliding block puzzle are easy (maybe even too easy) but, as you progress through the game, the difficulty rises up significantly. I find it particularly notable that the play area is just 3x3, but the peculiar mechanics allow the creation of incredibly difficult puzzles, with the hardest one requiring more than 180 moves.
Add that some levels are timed (I just skipped those), and most importantly that your progress is not saved when you quit the game, so you have to solve each puzzle in a single attempt.

#3: Stickets

I found the timed mode of this game just too hard for me. The normal mode is approachable, but is very difficult to play well, because a single mistake can be fatal. I wrote a strategy guide, which you might find useful.
The main problem is that once you become good, in theory a game could last forever. This means that to get a high score you have to invest a significant amount of time, and when you eventually lose, the thought of how long it took you to get there is a disincentive to start a new game. Thankfully, your progress is saved so you can split a game over how many sessions you like.
You get one point for each move you make. In the Game Center leaderboard, I'm #7 with 979 points. My friend Tom Cutrofello is #3 with 2541 points. The top scorer has 6124 points. Can you do better than us?

#2: MatCube

This is one of those games like the Rubik's cube, where a regular pattern is mixed up and you have to get back to it. It has several different play modes and difficulty settings; with the smallest puzzles being just 3x3, it would seem child's play, but it isn't. While I can easily solve the Rubik's cube, I can solve only the easiest mode in MatCube. From an email exchange with the author, it looks like he is in the same condition. If you discover some way to solve these puzzles, please let me know.

#1: Tile'm all

By now, you should start to see the pattern: all the games in this list seem small and innocuous, but looks can be deceptive.
I will tell you just one thing: this game contains 119 puzzles. I am stuck on #7 (I could skip it and try #8, but it's a matter of principle at this point).
It looks like a normal sliding block puzzle, but the difficulty is that when two pieces of the same color are side by side, they merge, and you have to move them as a whole from then on. So every move you make reduces your options for the next move.
The author very generously provided a hint button. The problem is that it doesn't tell you what move to make: it just lets you see the puzzle in its solved state. How to get there, is still up to you.
This game could also have made the list of best missed opportunities, because the user interface is horrible. But I'm forgiving that because the puzzles are so challenging.

So, that's all for the hardest games of 2013. Come back tomorrow for the best puzzle games of 2013.

©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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.