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Go With The Flow In FlowDoku, A Fresh New Twist On Sudoku

September 4, 2013

FlowDoku (Free) by Mark Grinols is a challenging puzzle game that is basically Sudoku, except with shapes instead of numbers. If you enjoy puzzle games that make you think about the solution, then this is one to check out.

While there are fantastic, in-depth games available on iOS, I’m definitely not in the mood to play these all the time. I’ve found that puzzles are mostly my cup of tea, especially when it comes to killing some downtime on my iPhone. They are relaxing, thought-provoking, and great for basically anyone. I don’t normally play Sudoku, but I know the concept, and when I heard that this game is basically that with shapes, I knew I had to check it out. FlowDoku does not disappoint for fans of the genre.

FlowDoku has some pretty simplistic visuals, even though it’s powered by the Unity graphics engine. The game features colorful graphics and big buttons, making it easy to navigate. The game also features two themes, Light and Dark, which are suitable for day or night play. A soothing soundtrack to go along with the game, making it easier for you to concentrate on solving the puzzles. Sound effects are a bit quirky as well, but adds that necessary bit of charm to the overall game.

The game comes with over 250 puzzles that span five difficulty levels over four different grid sizes: 6×6, 8×8, 9×9, and 12×12. To start a game, just select which size board you want, and then select the difficulty level. Each difficulty level will contain multiple puzzles to solve, as indicated with the counter at the end. There are more than one pack for some difficulties, with the others needing to be unlocked with gems, which you earn as you play the game. I’ve started out with nine, but I assume that you get rewarded with them as you complete entire puzzle packs.

In the beginning, FlowDoku will show the player a tutorial, explaining the basics. Essentially, each row and column can only contain a certain amount of each shape, and this is dependent on the size of the grid. For example, in the 6×6 board size, each row and column must have three squares, two triangles, and one circle. For the 8×8 size, they will have three squares, two triangles, and three circles. The bigger the board, the more complex it gets, but this is a given. Also, the grid will be broken up into smaller boxes, and matching shapes must be next to each other in these sectors. There is only one solution for every puzzle, so things start falling into place once you figure out the first few lines.

The controls in the game are simple, and can easily be played with just one hand if you wish. Where there are missing shapes, just tap on the box to go through the three shapes until you find the one you’re looking for. Matching shapes will get “linked” with a line that is color coordinated. If there are too many of a shape in a column or row, the game will put a red outline on that line and tell the player what they have excess of. This can be turned off in the settings if you want a real test of logic. You can also zoom in on the game board if need be by performing a simple tap-and-hold, and it’s easy to “paint” multiples of a shape by tap-and-drag. This is especially useful on the bigger game boards, like 12×12.

If you are having issues with a puzzle, there is a nifty “Roll Back” feature that allows you to go back to the first mistake you made. The game also provides hints, which will reveal one tile on the board. All of your progress is saved automatically, and you can work on multiple puzzles at a time. There is also an in-app purchase available, though I haven’t figured out what it is yet since I can’t seem to find the option, just “Restore Purchases.” I’d assume it’s for unlocking all puzzles, though, since it’s called “Do All Evil” and can be acquired through a $0.99 IAP.

Despite that minor issue, I’m really enjoying FlowDoku so far. It’s a refreshing new twist on the Sudoku puzzle, and it’s incredibly ambitious. The visuals are colorful, yet aesthetically pleasing, and there’s a ton of content available for free. I hope that the developer continues to add more in the future, and makes it a bit more obvious about what the in-app purchase is for. Still, this is a must have for any logic puzzle or Sudoku fan.

You can find FlowDoku in the App Store as a universal download for free.

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