Puzzle and match games
The best puzzle and match game on iPhone and iPad: Euclidean Lands
This stunning turn-based puzzler borrows from Monument Valley’s minimalist isometric views, Hitman GO’s turn-based puzzles, and the twisty-turny nature of a Rubik’s Cube. Your aim across 40 tiny geometric worlds hanging in space is to figure out how to reach and brutally stab enemies who can be lurking on any surface.
Early levels offer small cubes and static foes who guard only a single square. But Euclidean Lands quickly ramps up the challenge, with increasingly complex 3D architecture designed to trap and deceive, and enemies that move of their own accord and even take over moving the cubes. The game’s a tactile joy, marrying the very best of dazzling visuals and deviously designed brain-smashing puzzles.
Threes! is one of those rare things in puzzle games: a new idea. As you swipe, every tile on the four-by-four board moves, and pairs merge and level up. Matters are complicated by a new tile being added on the edge you swiped from during every move. The aim is therefore to keep going until you run out of space, planning ahead to create upgrade chains that put off the inevitable deadlock.
In a sense, Threes! is the iPhone’s Tetris — a simple, beautifully realised puzzler understood in moments but that takes months to master. But unlike those Russian blocks, Threes! is infused with personality, the little tiles burbling away and grinning like loons when they spot a partner in an adjacent slot.
World of Goo HD
2D Boy’s beautiful and surreal physics puzzler didn’t start out on iOS, but it really made sense once converted to it. The story centres on the World of Goo Corporation — seemingly a global leader in wrecking a planet — and the curious little Goo Balls that inhabit and power the world.
Puzzles mostly involve inventive ways of using Goo to build structures to a pipe that sucks the oblivious blobs to ‘Goo Heaven’ (i.e. a power plant). In being able to drag the Goo around with your finger, the game comes alive on the touchscreen in a way it just doesn’t when using a mouse or traditional controller. An evocative soundtrack and serious storytelling smarts further elevate World of Goo, frequently transforming a playable, engrossing puzzler into a disarmingly touching experience.
FROST doesn’t feel like a conventional puzzle game. Instead, it’s more like several dozen sandboxes, which allow you to play with living works of art composed of flitting swarms and neon streams that scythe their way across the screen.
But there is a point behind the beauty: to guide the swarms to orbs. This largely involves carving pathways that interact with on-screen elements in different ways. Some swarms obediently follow the trail. Others do not. Elsewhere, some orbs only accept creatures fashioned by ‘mixing’ multiple swarms, some of which are protected by shields.
Throughout, there’s no handholding – which is a good thing. The joy of FROST is in the discovery – and its sense of play.