We've all been hearing a lot about gamification, lately. As the theory goes, if you take a mundane task and wrap game design elements around it, everyone will want to do it. You can gameify health, education, employment, you name it. Now ASYNC Corp. [$0.99] is here to show us what that gamified future will look like.
As a member of the ASYNC Corp. team, your job is to create and send packets. Packets are made up of units, which are laid out on two grids. You can tap a unit on one grid to move it over to the other grid, but only if the change will create a packet--a square or rectangle made up of at least a 2 x 2 group of color-matched units. To send a packet, you can tap on its happy, smiling face.
A stimulated employee is a happy employee, so ASYNC Corp. has kindly provided several ways to complete your task. The first is Quota mode. In Quota mode, you simply do as instructed: create packets and send them. Your shift ends when the Quota meter fills up. In ASYNC mode, you must create full ASYNCs in every available color. This is a packet that fills an entire grid. This mode is more relaxing - it requires thought, not speed. Zoning mode requires the most speed of all, as you level up and increase your score by filling the Zoning meter. Finally, there is Freeplay mode, which isn't scored and only ends when you decide to punch out.
As you create and send units, your productivity will be ranked. At major milestones you will receive a promotion, and a reward to go with it: a new color theme. ASYNC Corp is also dedicated to your well-being: the company often sends tips and inspiration to your (in-game) inbox to keep you happy and productive.
Sadly, that's all the reward you'll see. There are no leaderboards or achievements to work toward here, though the game does keep track of your high scores. There's also no multitasking, which is brutal in a long-form puzzle game like this. Normally I'd expect an update to fix those omissions, but that may not happen here: apparently the development team was laid off as soon as the game was submitted. I'd like to think that if it does well enough, Powerhead Games will find some way to get those missing features in, but there's no guarantee.
It's really a shame, because this is easily one of the most compelling puzzle games I've played on iOS. The whole package is fantastic, with cheery art and music, and creative color-matching gameplay. The memos from ASYNC Corp. are odd, and have me curious about this company I find myself working for. I can't put the game down, but I also can't help wishing it had been given a little more development time. It could have been flawless.
Our forum users are enjoying it, but are torn over whether it's worth a purchase in its current state. I'm certain it is. If you absolutely must have multitasking or achievements, obviously this isn't the game for you. But if you're willing to overlook a few missing features, you'll soon find that the biggest challenge is leaving your job at ASYNC Corp. to get back to the real world.
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