Gua-Le-Ni ($4.99) by Double Jungle S.a.s. is a fantastic and unique new word game that requires a bit of imagination and brain power. Mixing word play with puzzle play, this game fits into a category all its own. Playing with blocks has never been so challenging.
There is really no way to properly compare this game with any other, so the best way to tackle the endeavor is to describe it in as much detail as possible. The point of the game is to catalog various animals in this imaginary bestiary. It is imaginary because the animals to be cataloged are hybrids. There are con-hogs (a mix between a condor and a warthog), cam-gers (a mix between a camel and a tiger) and rhi-mons (a mix between a rhino and a salmon). The list goes on. As the game progresses, additional syllables are added to complicate things. Players will be categorizing wart-mon-dor-gers and so on.
To categorize an animal, players must manipulate a set of cubes, or blocks, that sit below the image on screen. There will be anywhere between two and four blocks. On each of the six faces of each block is either the front or back end of an animal. For example, a block face will have the head of a tiger or behind of a bison. Each image includes the letters associated with that particular end. The tiger’s head will have the letters t and i, for instance. The blocks can be moved about by virtually grabbing them with your thumb and forefinger. They can be twisted, lifted, turned and moved about like a real block.
On the beautifully drawn bestiary landscape, an animal will begin to cross. The animal is a sketched drawing, torn into pieces and put together in an odd combination. As the hybrid beast crosses the screen, the player must match the blocks with the animal. There is a limited amount of time to find the proper categories as the animal will escape the bestiary if it does not get cataloged in time.
The theme of the graphics and design is reminiscent of Jumanji, while still maintaining an original look. The stunning hybrid creatures are both awesome and gruesome, like a beautiful, yet terrifying monster. The witty British narrator adds an element of humor that is not unlike Douglas Adams.
There are two modes of play, fiction and nonfiction. Fiction mode is where players learn the game mechanics and practice their skills. This is a good place to memorize the various images and which blocks they can be found on. In nonfiction, feeding becomes part of the process. Different foods will alter the animal by making it faster, slower, longer or more complex, altering the point value of the animal cataloged.
It was designed by a researcher at Breda University, in the Netherlands, and was meticulously developed by analysis of test subjects’ psychophysiological responses while playing the game. Each study produced new tweaks to the game so that the end result would be as pleasing as possible for all players. This technology is being called “biometric” game developing and it seems to have worked. The game is fantastic.
There is one, minor problem. The blocks are not always responsive. There were quite a few times when I could not get a block face to switch. Eventually, the block would move, but it took up precious time. This does not affect much of the gameplay, but hopefully, a fix is in the works.
Other than the minor lag in the response of the blocks, the game is tremendously entertaining and seriously challenging. The graphics are breathtaking and the narration is humorous. Each new animal that strolls across the screen is a friendly and strange site to behold. The price tag of $4.99 is not too steep for such a unique game. Pick it up in the App Store today.
Would you like to try your hand at categorizing and cataloging these unusual animals? Leave a comment below for a chance to win. Contest ends Thursday, Dec. 15 at 11:59 p.m. CST.