mondrian2I've personally never wished for a puzzle game hosted by the ghost of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, and I'm fairly confident that most people could say the same thing. In spite of this, the good people at Fuzzi Tail Software have delivered that exact experience in Mondrian, a challenging and visually pleasing puzzler brought to you by Piet Mondrian, who needs you to unscramble his masterpieces so he can enjoy the afterlife in peace.

While the puzzles in Mondrian are similar in design to the artwork of Piet Mondrian, they are not identical, as some concessions had to be made to make the game playable (they don't have the same grid-like black lines that Piet used in his art). Your goal is to duplicate each image provided in as few moves as possible. The target image can be checked as often as a player needs by touching the "solution" button in the bottom-left of the screen, and Piet Mondrian can be summoned to provide tips should a player get stuck.

mondrian1 The game board is populated with various tiles which can be moved about freely. Tiles are moved across the screen by a swipe, but their movement can only be stopped by another tile or wall. Basic, colored tiles can be used to block each other's path, black tiles can't be moved, numbered tiles must be moved precisely the same number of times as the number displayed on the tile itself, grey tiles adapt the color of the tiles they touch, and "merge" tiles can occupy the same space as indentically colored tiles.

Mondrian takes players on a mission to solve puzzles through numerous countries and continents around the world (beginning in Canada and ending in the USA). Each time one of the aforementioned game elements is introduced for the first time, Piet will come out and give a short lesson on how things work, so players won't ever be completely lost so long as they pay attention to the famous painter. If you're like me, that won't be hard to do, as the game's depiction of its namesake is pretty charming; Piet's dialogue made me chuckle on more than one occasion.

Although there aren't a massive number of levels in Mondrian (69 total) the levels that are included are so challenging that anyone who downloads the game is in for quite a few hours of brain-tingling puzzles. Also adding on to the total number of hours that players can get from the title, levels feature a par that indicates the minimum number of moves needed to complete so those interested can redo them later if they wish to improve their scores.

While I like the challenge that Mondrian offers, I think that the difficulty level might ramp up a little bit too quickly for most players. Levels do start out simply, but from about the second world location on to the end, puzzles are REALLY hard. This makes the puzzles much more satisfying to complete, but simultaneously could alienate less deft players.

The worst part about the difficulty is that all the levels in a world location must be completed before players can move on to any other level in the game. This is the sort of design mistake that can really cause problems, bottlenecking players on one or two levels that they just don't understand when the game should simply allow players to move on and come back to a particularly difficult level later if they so wish.

Mondrian offers up a hearty challenge for anyone who enjoys a good brain-teaser. The difficulty is a tad high on this one, so if you're not often in the mood to get the brain juices flowing, it might not be for you.

Update: I've learned from the developer that an update for Mondrian that addresses my complaints about the level progression has already been submitted and approved. Here is the official description of the update, directly from Jef Armstrong of Fuzzi Tail Software:

"Now any location/level can be unlocked. Simply touch the icon on the map and choose to unlock. Of course, the ghost of Mondrian may not be happy with your choice to skip ahead and will tell you so, but there is no penalty and once a location is unlocked it stays that way. Also, the timer is now optional and is turned off my default."

App Store Link: Mondrian, $2.99

TouchArcade Rating

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  • mlkaufman

    > The worst part about the difficulty is that all the levels in a world
    > location must be completed before players can move on to any
    > other level in the game.

    I was on my way to buy it when I saw this.

    What is it with developers who think that people want to be tortured in this way?

    So many good games have been ruined by this. "Oh, you cant do puzzle 5, well then I guess you just got a game with only 5 puzzles in it."

    • MrMuesli

      Totally agree. With a puzzler like this you should be able to dip in wherever and whenever you like imo. I have been completely hooked on Blockoban recently which has got the right idea.

    • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

      I promise I wasn't trying to torture you. This is certainly something that I can fix in an update. I do want to make sure the player goes through the first couple of locations because those show you all the various puzzle elements and show you how they work. Do you mind if the first locations have to be completed before the rest unlocks?

      • Martin

        @ JefArmstrong
        That seems like some sort of tutorial, I wouldn't mind that.
        And if you fix this issue in an update, than the game would be an instant buy for me. ;)
        I like puzzlers on my iPod.

      • MrMuesli

        Yup, that sounds like a great idea: ) Looking forward to getting my hands on it, as this does look like a fantastic and stylish game.

      • Christy

        I just bought it, I love the app icon. I hope you update it to be able to bypass levels you can't beat just in case I suck at it. heh.

      • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

        Great. I will make that change and get an update out soon. Thank you so much for the comments. It's really helpful.

      • Ryan Rigney

        It's always pleasing to see a developer who is willing to listen to his customers and make the necessary changes to give them the best possible experience :) Kudos, Jef

      • http://worldofsolitaire.com Robert Schultz

        Jeff, because of your response here, I am buying this app tonight. I trust that at some point you'll release the update you mentioned.

        Besides, I love supporting indie developers :)

    • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

      Thanks. Yes, I'm working on it. I'll post on the forum when it's submitted.

  • mlkaufman

    > The worst part about the difficulty is that all the levels in a world
    > location must be completed before players can move on to any
    > other level in the game.

    I was on my way to buy it when I saw this.

    What is it with developers who think that people want to be tortured in this way?

    So many good games have been ruined by this. "Oh, you cant do puzzle 5, well then I guess you just got a game with only 5 puzzles in it."

    • MrMuesli

      Totally agree. With a puzzler like this you should be able to dip in wherever and whenever you like imo. I have been completely hooked on Blockoban recently which has got the right idea.

    • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

      I promise I wasn't trying to torture you. This is certainly something that I can fix in an update. I do want to make sure the player goes through the first couple of locations because those show you all the various puzzle elements and show you how they work. Do you mind if the first locations have to be completed before the rest unlocks?

      • Martin

        @ JefArmstrong
        That seems like some sort of tutorial, I wouldn't mind that.
        And if you fix this issue in an update, than the game would be an instant buy for me. ;)
        I like puzzlers on my iPod.

      • MrMuesli

        Yup, that sounds like a great idea: ) Looking forward to getting my hands on it, as this does look like a fantastic and stylish game.

      • Christy

        I just bought it, I love the app icon. I hope you update it to be able to bypass levels you can't beat just in case I suck at it. heh.

      • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

        Great. I will make that change and get an update out soon. Thank you so much for the comments. It's really helpful.

      • Ryan Rigney

        It's always pleasing to see a developer who is willing to listen to his customers and make the necessary changes to give them the best possible experience :) Kudos, Jef

      • http://worldofsolitaire.com Robert Schultz

        Jeff, because of your response here, I am buying this app tonight. I trust that at some point you'll release the update you mentioned.

        Besides, I love supporting indie developers :)

    • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

      Thanks. Yes, I'm working on it. I'll post on the forum when it's submitted.

  • Mark

    Is that a timer at the bottom? Or a move counter?
    If it's the timer is there a way to not time, to have that disabled?

    • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

      That's a timer. There is no time limit, but it does use that to determine part of your final score (ie - faster = better)

      • Mark

        I think with games that use time as a hard limit "You have 60 seconds to dig and find the jewels" then you are honing your gameplay within that set time. I have a problem with games that just count up.
        For instance Nurikabe Full has a timer that goes up. Not entirely sure why in that game but the act is the time becomes the focus, the higher it gets the stupider I feel for not solving the puzzle already. When I go to play a level again I remember that I quit it before because of the timer. I would rather tackle the puzzle than the timer and the puzzle.
        With Nurikabe I also do not want the timer because it's just me playing it. Score is immaterial. If score was going to be something to beat friends with I would play, remember what I could then delete and reinstall the game. Well maybe I wouldn't but I know someone who would. Same applies to this I imagine.

      • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

        I hear you. Let me think about it. Given that a lot of people are finding the puzzles hard, maybe the timer in that context is a bad idea. I was using as way to get a larger variation of final scores. What's the best way to alert people like yourself when I release a new update?

      • Mark

        Can the number of moves be used? Ivory Tiles - there are others - have a set number of moves it can be done in but if you take more it doesn't matter. I will always try and do the best set of moves.

        Updates - I'd post to the forum thread for your game and we can keep the conversation going there.

  • Mark

    Is that a timer at the bottom? Or a move counter?
    If it's the timer is there a way to not time, to have that disabled?

    • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

      That's a timer. There is no time limit, but it does use that to determine part of your final score (ie - faster = better)

      • Mark

        I think with games that use time as a hard limit "You have 60 seconds to dig and find the jewels" then you are honing your gameplay within that set time. I have a problem with games that just count up.
        For instance Nurikabe Full has a timer that goes up. Not entirely sure why in that game but the act is the time becomes the focus, the higher it gets the stupider I feel for not solving the puzzle already. When I go to play a level again I remember that I quit it before because of the timer. I would rather tackle the puzzle than the timer and the puzzle.
        With Nurikabe I also do not want the timer because it's just me playing it. Score is immaterial. If score was going to be something to beat friends with I would play, remember what I could then delete and reinstall the game. Well maybe I wouldn't but I know someone who would. Same applies to this I imagine.

      • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

        I hear you. Let me think about it. Given that a lot of people are finding the puzzles hard, maybe the timer in that context is a bad idea. I was using as way to get a larger variation of final scores. What's the best way to alert people like yourself when I release a new update?

      • Mark

        Can the number of moves be used? Ivory Tiles - there are others - have a set number of moves it can be done in but if you take more it doesn't matter. I will always try and do the best set of moves.

        Updates - I'd post to the forum thread for your game and we can keep the conversation going there.

  • Acadiaaaaa

    Mm.. Looks very neat. I'll go buy it!

  • Acadiaaaaa

    Mm.. Looks very neat. I'll go buy it!

  • MrMuesli

    I just wanted to say that having played through to almost the end of Brazil now, I find this a brilliant game. Really hard, and therefore thoroughly rewarding when you DO actually beat a level. And I (strangely) love it when I am busting with pride at having beaten a level and good old Piet says words to the effect of 'Well done, but actually you're cr*p. I could do better than that, and I'm dead'. Lol! And then tells you that a level can be achieved in 24 moves instead of the barely achieved 44 that I used: / This is one cocky ghost, and I will have my vengeance!

    Also, I am assuming that the levels are going to get harder from here on, so to have countries unlocked in an up-date is all well and good, but if I can't beat earlier levels, then I will surely have no chance with the later ones. Slightly contradicting my earlier post, but just musing out load really. Humour me; )

    • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

      MrMuesli - Glad your having fun! The update is ready - I'm just testing now - and it allows you to continue to play just like you are now. The levels are still "locked" but you can unlock them just by touching a location and confirming. Oh, and that "cocky ghost" does have something to say when you want to unlock a level!

      I'm so glad your having a great time. That makes my day! Thanks.

  • MrMuesli

    I just wanted to say that having played through to almost the end of Brazil now, I find this a brilliant game. Really hard, and therefore thoroughly rewarding when you DO actually beat a level. And I (strangely) love it when I am busting with pride at having beaten a level and good old Piet says words to the effect of 'Well done, but actually you're cr*p. I could do better than that, and I'm dead'. Lol! And then tells you that a level can be achieved in 24 moves instead of the barely achieved 44 that I used: / This is one cocky ghost, and I will have my vengeance!

    Also, I am assuming that the levels are going to get harder from here on, so to have countries unlocked in an up-date is all well and good, but if I can't beat earlier levels, then I will surely have no chance with the later ones. Slightly contradicting my earlier post, but just musing out load really. Humour me; )

    • http://www.fuzzitail.com JefArmstrong

      MrMuesli - Glad your having fun! The update is ready - I'm just testing now - and it allows you to continue to play just like you are now. The levels are still "locked" but you can unlock them just by touching a location and confirming. Oh, and that "cocky ghost" does have something to say when you want to unlock a level!

      I'm so glad your having a great time. That makes my day! Thanks.