Pikaware’s Tile Enigma launches for iOS devices today, and it brings a new take on the “color matching” puzzle genre. In our review, we’ll tell you what Tile Enigma is about, and whether or not it is worth playing. Along the way, we’ll chat with Pikaware’s Tammy and Chris Ball about the game and its inspiration.
Easy to Learn, Hard to Master
Tile Enigma starts out simple. Each tile has two possible colors, yellow or blue. The objective is to match the color of the tiles across an entire row or column. When this has been done at least once for every row and column on the board, you win!
In order to change the color of the tiles, there are just two equally simple interactions. One is a swipe, which moves a colored tile to an empty space and swaps its color in the process. The other is a two-finger tap, which flips all the tiles in a row or column.
While the game sounds simple in theory, the puzzles in Tile Enigma manage to bend your brain in weird and interesting ways. Each level presents a unique challenge, and a very limited number of moves in which to meet your tile matching goals.
Pikaware’s Tammy and Chris on the simplicity of the mechanics:
“We started with game pieces that were two sided. The earliest iteration of the game was prototyped with pieces of cardboard, with bright paper taped to one side. In the beginning, we envisioned a game where you try to get all the pieces to be a matching color. But it is more interesting to match up just one row or column at a time— that way both colors are represented throughout gameplay. We really liked the quality of two opposites within the same game piece, and that neither side (blue nor yellow) is more important than the other; just that they are different but equally useful.”
Each level in Tile Enigma is scored on a 3-star system. There is a “par time” to beat to get maximum stars on each puzzle.
Ramping Up With Echoes
Once you’ve cleared the first “world” of 20 puzzles, the game introduces “echoes” – tiles that can cause chain reactions when they are matched.
The first echo is shown in the screenshot above. Whenever this tile is lined up with tiles of the same color, it will cause the 4 tiles next to it diagonally to flip.
Pikaware’s Tammy and Chris on echoes:
“Having played many popular games in the match-3 genre, one of the aspects we felt was most satisfying from a gameplay perspective was the potential for cascading effects. We went through a number of iterations on ways to bring that fun gameplay element into Tile Enigma. Eventually we nailed it with echoes.”
Echoes add a bit more variety to the game’s puzzles, and keep the later worlds feeling fresh.
Puzzles, Not Random Chance
Unlike levels in Candy Crush Saga, each puzzle in Tile Enigma can be solved with the number of moves you’re given. It’s just a matter of figuring out the right sequence of moves to properly align the colored tiles. Additionally, there’s no penalty for failing and trying again.
In this way, Tile Enigma never feels frustrating – instead of wondering if random candies are going to fall your way, or stressing about having to wait an hour before trying again, you can just relax and experiment.
Tile Enigma is a free download, and like most free-to-play games it features in-app purchases. The free version comes with the first 40 levels, but unlocking the other 60 will set you back $1.99. More levels are planned, with Tammy and Chris saying that they plan to release more “as soon as we have a critical mass of players reaching the last level.”
The game starts you out with 20 extra moves, which can be used to help bypass puzzles you get stuck on. It’s possible to buy more once these run out, but as each puzzle is solvable without extra moves, this is completely optional.
Tile Enigma also features ads which can be turned off for another $1.99 fee. The only downside to this is that unless you purchase this option, the game won’t let you play without a data connection.
Should You Grab Tile Enigma?
Mobile gaming is a crowded market with tons of choices. Most are rehashes of old concepts, or downright clones of popular titles. Pikaware’s Tile Enigma stands out as a unique, simple, yet challenging entry into the mobile puzzler genre. It’s free to grab the first 40 levels, so there’s really no reason not to try it out!