Review: Ichi by @StolenCouch (iOS)
Ichi appears to be a really simple puzzle game at first. Stolen Couch (who is also making The Village, which I previously mentioned I am super excited about – there’s a new blog with some art up for that, if you’re interested) actually sells it that way but, it turns out, it is really insanely devious. Oh, things start off easy enough and it has a really nice, simple art style to it that maintains that simplicity. Nice and clean, but still vibrant. You tap the screen and you make a red wedge turn so that you can bounce a small yellow ball to the marked spots on the screen (the small yellow circles you see on the pictures. Easy, see? I mean, you’re not going to have any problems with this or anything.
Or are you? It isn’t too long (say, about 10 levels in of the available 51 official levels, by my count) when thing start to get a little trickier. Oh, it’s still not fiendish, by any means, but you start to get some extra variables thrown it, like the little swirly teleporters you see above that, you know, teleport your ball between them and the crumbling block you can see on the right side of the screen that will bounce your ball back, but only once. And then the next thing you know you are holding down on the screen to draw a line that you can bounce the ball against and making blue wedges disappear.
The level layout gets trickier, too. Still, the game is all logic. It’s all on you to look at the patterns of how things are laid out on the screen and how you can interact with them and how you can get to the end result with the fewest moves possible. The game gives you a grade on each level based on how few moves you can make it to the goal in and, if you are like me, that old arcade-style mechanic will work to keep you chipping at some of the trickier levels for a good while before you get that elusive ‘A’. Ichi also includes a level editor which should really give you some longevity. When I checked while I was writing this, there were already 103 levels available for you to try out and Stolen Couch is promising even more levels in the future. To make a level you choose a template to start with, but then you can completely redraw the entire thing if you like. The level editor is easy to use, allowing you to click and drag whatever objects you like onto the map. All-in-all, it is a very nice all around package that does what the best puzzle games do – takes a simple premise and then keeps stretching it until you have to warp your mind a little to figure out what you were supposed to do and then wonder how you didn’t see it immediately once you do figure it out, because the answer is always right in front of you.