I love puzzle games. Lucky for me you can’t swing a dead Pokemon in the App Store without hitting several dozen. Not all of them are good, of course, and many are shallow copies of much better games. There are enough good ones, however, to keep me entertained and seeking more. Those moments when I come across something really compelling and get that “oh cool" feeling make the search well worth the effort. Glowish ($1.99), a recently released pattern-recognition puzzler, definitely gave me that feeling.
Glowish is made by The One Pixel—an indie team based in Portugal—who are on quite a roll in the last couple of months. In early July they launched Color Magnet ($2.99), a clever little puzzler where you clear a board of blocks by using magnets that attract like-colored pieces. That game was immediately followed by Brainful (Free) in the middle of July. Brainful is a free-to-play and fast-paced brain buster where you have to pick the right tile as they drop down the screen. On August 30th The One Pixel launched Glowish which is the best of the bunch in my opinion.
You are presented with a bevy of game pieces in Glowish that come in three different shapes—circle, triangle, or square—and an assortment of colors. When you touch a piece it’s outline glows as does every other piece with the same shape or color. Your goal is to find the right combination of touches to make all of the pieces glow, at which point you advance to the next level. Naturally, it’s not as easy as it sounds and The One Pixel team did a nice job designing levels of varying difficulty.
Glowish offers 100 levels that run the gamut from super simple to exceedingly complex. As such, some you move through with just a little thought and effort and others require a hefty amount of pondering and perhaps a break or two after which you return for a fresh look. An easy-medium-hard type rotation provides a nice sense of progress through levels and helps avoid the frustration of getting stuck on level after level that some puzzle games can inspire. Once you’ve worked your way through all 100, there’s a random mode that throws as many randomly-generated levels at you as you’d like for near-infinite fun.
I find game play to be quick and fun in Glowish and it is a perfect game to pull up for a minute or two here and there, or to tackle for twenty or so minutes before bed. Finding the right combination of pieces to touch is a great exercise in pattern recognition and the predetermination of outcomes. If you excel at being able to see a couple moves down the road this game is right up your alley. If you don’t, there’s no harm in a little trial and error as with Glowish you either finish the level or you don’t, there’s no time or move limit.
I’ve found the key to the game to be determining the critical pieces on any given board. This is often a piece that only matches the shape of other pieces but not any of their colors, or vice versa. Once you’ve done that you can line up a middle state to aim for and then close the level out using the pivotal piece. Some later levels do away with this strategy to some extent and it becomes more about finding the right series of on/off combinations to line up all the shapes and colors.
Glowish is bright, attractive, and easy to play. The early levels are a bit obvious and serve as a tutorial of sorts to get you going, but otherwise the game stays out of your way. As you play, Glowish rotates through 8 different color schemes which adds some nice variety. If you’re a fan of a particular one you can turn off the shuffle and stick with it. There’s also a color-blind mode that adds symbols to each piece for use in lieu of colors, which is handy for those who need it. There’s also some relaxing music that accompanies the game. I usually listen to other stuff while puzzling and happily, Glowish does not turn off external audio.
The One Pixel seem to be experimenting a bit with payment models and I really like the one they’ve landed on with Glowish. The game is two bucks and offers IAPs to buy hints. Hints can be a nice addition or a complete pain and deal-breaker depending on how they are implemented. I’m happy to report that Glowish did it right. You get three hints to start and a pack of 15 more costs $.99 while infinite hints is $1.99. Hints are by no means required and the game was not designed to be unnecessarily difficult to drive the sale of hints. The hint button is also unobtrusive, very difficult to accidentally press, and there are no annoying popups, arrows, or anything else inserted to call attention to it.
A lot has been done with both colors and shapes in puzzle games and it’s easy to say there’s nothing new to be had there. Glowish, however, has found a core mechanic that is unique and interesting without being needlessly complex. In fact, the game progresses without throwing in additional mechanics to spice things up, it’s the same simple gameplay from level 1 to 100. This simplicity feels right and makes for an enjoyable experience. If you’re a fan of the puzzle-game genre I wholeheartedly recommend you pick up Glowish today.