Strand by Edward Staley icon

Strand (Free) by Edward Staley is a unique, mind-bending puzzle game that is sure to delight. The game itself is relaxing in nature, like Alpha Zen and Color Zen.

Even though I’ve been addicted to the frustratingly difficult Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous lately, I still can’t get enough puzzles. So when I was browsing the App Store this week for new releases, I was pretty happy to see a game like Strand available. If you enjoy puzzle games that aren’t too easy but just the right amount of difficult, then this is the perfect fit.

Strand by Edward Staley screenshot

The visuals in this game are clean, simple, and colorful. Everything seems to be flattened, so it will definitely be a nice addition on iOS 7. One thing that I did notice, though, is that while most of the graphics seem to be crisp and Retina-ready, some of the text appeared fuzzy on the screen. The text I am referring to was in the tutorial section, and some brief moments during the game that explained how to play. It’s not a major problem, but I hope that the developer takes the time to optimize all of the text in a future update.

The sounds and music in the game were off by default for me, but I was able to turn them on in the settings. The soundtrack is very soothing and relaxing, and definitely a nice thing to hear while you try and figure out the levels. However, if you aren’t able to have the sound on, then it’s nice to know that you can turn it off independently.

While the game is free to download, you will only have access to 50 levels (but you can play them in any order you want), which are split up into two Standard Level packs. This gives you a good taste of the game, and if you want more, you can purchase the additional level packs (Timewasters, Thinkers, and Master Packs) for $1.99 a pop. There is even a Custom Colors add-on where you can customize the game menu and game colors to whatever you want for $0.99. And finally, there is an autosolver tool to reveal the solution to a puzzle you are stuck on, and these range from $0.99 to $4.99 a pop.

So what’s the deal with Strand? Each level will feature some “elements,” which are basically color coded. The like-colored elements need to be connected, and a number on each indicates how many “strands” they need for connecting to the same elements. The level is solved once all of the elements have an indicator of zero.

Strand by Edward Staley screenshot

The controls in the game are simple and intuitive. To connect two elements, you just need to drag your finger from one to the other. Doing this will reveal a strand of the same color forming, and the elements need to be connected by this strand. You can cut a strand by slicing it with your finger in case you mess up and realize a different strand works better.

As you go through levels, you will start to encounter various obstacles that prevent paths from being made, but then you’ll find pegs, which you can “bend” strands around in order to connect elements. Also, more colors and multiple-colored elements get introduced later on to complicate things. If you create a strand that interferes with another, the previous strand will get cut, and you’ll have to figure that one out again.

If things get too messy, you can reset the puzzle at any time with the button at the top. You can also return to the level selection screen, or, if you’re really stuck, use the Solve option to have the solution revealed to you. You only start out with two, and you will need to buy more after those are depleted, so use them wisely.

I’m really enjoying Strand so far. It’s one of those puzzle games that you can just kick back and relax with, since there are no competitive leaderboards to climb or achievements to obtain. It’s just about solving some tricky little puzzles that look simple but can be quite deceiving. Any puzzle fan is sure to love this gem.

I highly recommend checking out Strand for yourself if you’re looking for a good puzzle this weekend. You can get it in the App Store for your iPhone for free.