The Simple Game Will Soberly Puzzle You

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There are games of many sorts available on the iPhone. Some go by names as outlandish as The Impossible Game, which is designed to be simply unbeatable. Others, however, tend to have more official titles, such as N.O.V.A. This sort of game is just Gameloft’s iOS iteration of Halo though, and there’s not much more to it than that.

Amazing graphics aside, iOS developer myp” decided to go minimal with his game. It’s fully universal and has been optimized for the Retina iPad — though there are elements that have a little pixelation, like the start screen. This game is not like anything you’ve ever seen before, and while originality is generally something I seek in what I’d deem a good game, The Simple Game still has its share of assets that make it an entertaining puzzle. I’ll take a more in-depth look at it after the break though, so why don’t you join me?

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Simple? Yes. Easy? Not the least bit.

With a name so official, yet somewhat tacky, the average user would expect The Simple Game to be a boring rip-off of something more official. The gameplay is reminiscent of Bejeweled, yet not with so many bonus points or game modes. In The Simple Game, you don’t try to stack up points by matching tiles, but rather swiping them in the correct direction. Things are color-coded so as to mix you up with the common confusion of two much-alike colors.

Yes, I know: it doesn't look that complex. Well it is!

Yes, I know: it doesn’t look that complex. Well it is!

Let’s get started: there’s a tutorial offered within the game — it appears the first time you start playing. Basically, you need to find another square box that has the exact same color as the one that has an arrow or checkmark on it. Once you’ve got the box, drag it in the direction that the arrow is pointing. If there is no arrow, all you have to do is drag it one of the four directions — it doesn’t matter which. Just make sure that you don’t swipe the box that has an arrow on it because that’s only your guide.

The developer provided instructions, thankfully.

The developer provided instructions, thankfully.

Now, on to lives. You have three lives, or “fail points” as the game’s guide puts them. They’re symbolized by three pixelated hearts in the top left corner of the interface. Always existent during gameplay, these hearts will become hollow if you made an incorrect move, missed the time limit or mistakenly tapped a tile instead of swiping it. Oh, and those tiles that look like checkmarks are downward swipes, not “anywhere” moves. I thought they were the latter at first because they look confusing. There’s also a pause button in this area of the screen if you need to take a break.

Tip: Don’t swipe a tile that’s at the edge of the screen towards the edge because it doesn’t work.

I have but one suggestion for gameplay: a restart/play again button. I would have expected to see such a feature in a game of this genre, yet there isn’t one to be found. I’d suggest a restart button for people who don’t want to keep playing the current round and a play again button for those who want to play another round without going back to the main menu.

So Many Simple, Yet Different Colors

After a bit of playing the game, you’ll get a hang of the gameplay, but it still gets the best of you often. Upon first sight — watching the trailer and viewing the screenshots — I thought that this game would be incredibly easy and not offer any challenge. Boy, was I wrong. Even after playing it for a good half an hour straight, I can’t seem to not lose a life. The main issue I keep having is that the game’s differing tiles are so very similar. Contradictory as that may seem, it’s very true.

Quickly now, which square is the correct shade of blue?

Quickly now, which square is the correct shade of blue?

One shade of brown can look just like another, but it’s slightly different. The same goes for pretty much every other color on the board too. Interestingly enough, there’s row of half-tiles at the bottom of the screen that you can’t swipe at all. Sometimes there will be a color you need in there, but it’s not playable. I’m not sure if this is a bug or not — I just wanted to mention it.

Keeping Score

Scoring is as simple as the gameplay. If you stay alive for ten levels, you’ll be awarded a brown medal; should you get to 50,000 points in under 60-seconds, you’ll be given a blue medal; getting 100,000 points will earn earn you a green medal; if you manage to keep playing for three-minutes straight, you’ll get an orange medal; the green medal is hardest to earn: you must reach level 100 in order to get it and that takes forever. These achievements are actually hard to reach and I only managed to complete the first one for now.

Clearly I'm a professional: why didn't they include me on that list?

Clearly I’m a professional: why didn’t they include me on that list?

If you’re really good at The Simple Game, you’ll be featured on the top-five list. Tap the scores icon on the main screen to be taken to your medals/scores screen. It’ll show what level you’ve reached and the top score you have. Below that there’s a list of the five top scores. Right now, it seems like someone by the name of “Bea” is dominating and has reached over 100,000 points before. Now, why don’t you try to beat that?

Flat Graphics Like Windows 8

It would seem that many users these days prefer amazing graphics over a good story or fun gameplay. The Simple Game doesn’t offer any such thing in the graphics department. Sure, it’s colorful, but there’s nothing more than a minimal design behind the addictive gameplay. I’ll admit that the only reason I keep playing it is because it’s fun, not because the graphics are good. In fact, they kind of annoy me, yet I can’t think of a better design for such a game.

You should buy it because it'll entertain you.

You should buy it because it’ll entertain you.

Imagine the Windows 8 previously-known-as “Metro” interface, except all squares with lots of swiping and color changing: that’s The Simple Game. It’s a flat, two-dimensional design that may seem boring to some, but I personally like it. Not that it gives the game any sort of class, but rather that it tones to experience down so you can focus on the gameplay and not the design and graphics. It doesn’t hurt my eyes as much as Bejeweled, that’s for sure.

Not Too Addictive, But A Good Game Nonetheless

I didn’t expect The Simple Game to be anything extremely special and it isn’t. There’s nothing significant about the app other than its minimal design and gameplay. Other than the one suggestion I offered, I think this game is perfect. I don’t often indulge in mobile gaming — especially on my iPhone, — but this is a different sort of game. It’s not demanding and it’s not boring. I can pick it up whenever I want, play it, and hope to beat my score a few times before going back to whatever I was doing before.

Myp” had good intentions for this game and the hard work that was put into it shows. If you like puzzling, mind-exercising games, then this is a great addition to whatever else you may already own. I’d recommend this to anyone who uses public transportation daily and needs something to do during that dull time of day. I hope you enjoy the game as much as I did.


Summary

For a game that boasts effortless gameplay, The Simple Game will not disappoint.

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