Looking for a unique puzzle game to fill your hours? Take a look at Joining Hands [$2.99] by 10tons, creators of Grim Joggers [$1.99] and Azkend [$2.99]. It tells of the Whispering Wood, a place filled with boogeymen to frighten the little Peablins, Gloobins and Brufflins that inhabit it. To make it through safely, they all need to hold hands.
In each of Joining Hands' levels, you're faced with a hex grid and several of these cute little creatures. The trick is to arrange them so that no hand is left unheld. Creatures are happy when their hands are held, and unhappy with they have a free hand. When everyone's happy, the level is complete. This is easy to do when you're just dealing with Peablins--those little green guys will hold hands with anyone. But then they start sprouting extra limbs, and soon you're trying to link up one guy with 4 arms, another with 3, and a few other friends. It gets a little messy.
The levels have a few tricks to mix things up as well. Some hexes are blocked by stones. Others have stars, which can be claimed by covering them and completing the level. Hearts (or "Comfort Zones") add another twist: any creature on a heart will be happy even if his hands are empty.
There are six types of creatures, including Peablins. Brufflins have inflexible arms, so they need to be positioned carefully. Poeglins need their personal space, so don't put them next to anyone else. Grimmlins can't be moved--their armor is too heavy. Whisprins are always happy, but they frighten anyone next to them. And Gloobins, who were added in a recent update, can only hold tentacles with each other.
Joining Hands has a simple set of controls: drag to move the little guys around, and tap to rotate the Brufflins. There aren't any time limits or move restrictions, so you're free to experiment and work your way through each level with trial and error if needed. This makes the game feel a little bit too easy early on, but don't even think about relaxing. Later levels are a serious challenge--hard enough that I occasionally found myself wishing for a level skip mechanic.
You won't find any achievements here, but Joining Hands has a huge amount of content to keep you occupied. There are currently 10 episodes covering over 150 levels. You can also compete on Game Center leaderboards for total collected stars, although that caps out with people who've mastered the whole game.
I'm a bit of a sucker for cute art styles, but Joining Hands marries its cute art and sound design with solid, original gameplay. Our forum users have been quite happy with it too. Puzzle fans should definitely check it out.
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