I’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.
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