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Review: LandFormer - Earth Shattering Puzzler

June 29, 2010


LandFormer is a brand new puzzle game that is truly earth shattering. We gave you a preview at GDC, and now it's time for the full review. You’re given a five by five grid with each of the 25 tiles able to move to one of five height levels. You have six brushes that allow you to move certain patterns of terrain. In every level your goal is to make the entire grid flat which is done by choosing one of the brushes and raising and lowering land level by level and brush by brush. The terrain goes from ocean to river, to flat land, and then up to hill and finally mountain. Each level is scored based on the number of moves taken to complete which is based upon the number of moves the developer took to create the formation.


The game is free to download which gives you 10 beginner levels. For $1.99 you unlock 50 more levels with 15 easy, 15 medium, 10 hard, and 10 expert. You can create your own levels and share them with friends via e-mail, and you can buy a neon color theme for $0.99.

The Good

LandFormer may be the most challenging puzzle game I've come across in the App Store. Most of the challenge comes from the wonderfully unique gameplay that deserves distinction for not simply being another match three, physics based, or marble popping puzzle game. You will instantly be hooked on the gameplay mechanic once you make it through your first beginner level so be careful on downloading the free version if you don't plan on buying something because you'll sure want to. Despite the sheer challenge of the game it keeps you coming back for more replaying puzzles over and over to try to solve them. Even with being challenged so much there is still fun in the game, and it feels so great to complete the harder puzzles. With fifty levels in total that go from complex to insane you'll be spending loads of time land forming. When you first begin LandFormer the various brushes will seem awkward, and you'll never be sure of which one to use. Once you get into the game the six brushes just click, and you'll see the terrain in a whole new perspective, and better understand what brush to use, and when. Though the game is plenty challenging there is a brilliant difficulty curve so you're readily prepared when levels really start getting extreme. It's just such a great puzzle experience as you raise and lower land in specific groupings with each move so dependent on the previous move. Sometimes you'll need to raise three river tiles while making another tile a mountain only for that to connect with other mountains in a different brush pattern. The game includes a back button to go back one move you made on accident or a whole set of moves to go in a different direction. The level set-up is outstanding so once you pay $1.99 you have access to all levels so you never get completely stuck. You don't have to beat one level to unlock the next so you can jump around within a difficulty category, or go from easy to expert and anywhere in between. You can always replay levels to try to complete them in a fewer number of moves as well, though it's not necessary to unlock new levels. The game has a nice bright and extremely polished visual style. There are fine little details in each of the five types of tiles, and it's great to see the board morph on puzzle completion. There is a subtle and soothing soundtrack to help you think about the puzzle, and to keep you from tossing your iPhone across the room.

The Bad

The only thing not to like is that the game is super challenging so just be prepared, and never get discouraged. The online level editor is quite simplistic since you can only share levels via e-mail. With that said you can edit levels, and play your friends edited levels all for free.

The Verdict

LandFormer is one of the best puzzle games available for the iPhone that is a unique challenge everyone should try. It's an amazingly challenging puzzle that is an unique idea, and executed extremely well to keep you coming back for more despite the numerous struggles. The game is designed exceptionally well in every regard all the way down to the pricing structure. It's great that the game is set up so that it's free for everyone to try, and then you can find out if it's the game for you. It's a definite must buy for the $1.99 in app purchase, and everyone should download it for free.

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