Visually, Windin has some gorgeous minimalist graphics for a casual puzzle. While it looks like it’s 2-D at first, because of the depth that the two layers of game pieces provides, it’s more 3-D than what you may originally think. Plus, the shadowing on each piece makes everything pop out more, and the angled perspective for everything (including the backdrop) makes it easy to see it all in a single glance. The color palette in Windin features a nice mix of soft pastels and bolder hues, and it’s easy to tell everything apart from each other. The gem tiles are shiny and appealing to the eyes, kind of like mesmerizing pieces of (eye) candy. The game has an upbeat and quirky soundtrack in the background that is rather soothing, and helps you focus on making precise moves. The sound effects are fairly realistic as well, which is a nice touch. Overall, as the developer’s first release so far, they’ve done an excellent job with Windin’s cutesy visual style and sound design.
There’s only one game mode in Windin, but honestly it’s all you need since the game is more of a high score chaser, and it’s similar to Tetris. Plus, this game is perfect for bite-sized breaks throughout the day. At the moment, Windin’s game mode is basically just see how high of a score you can get before you run out of space on the game board. The objective is to match up like-colored gems, either horizontally or vertically, in groups of at least three or more. The larger the match, the more points you get for each piece. You can also match top pieces with adjacent pieces that are on the bottom level. You also rack up more points for multiple matches in one turn, such as cascades (when you match both the top and bottom layers in a single turn) and combos.
However, since each piece is a stack of two, you’ll need to plan ahead, especially since the direction of the wind changes each turn and will blow the top piece into an empty space after you place them on the board. It sounds easy enough at first, but the wind is rather unpredictable and is definitely a challenging obstacle, though it can also work to your advantage at times.
Controls in Windin are a simple affair. For each turn, you have two varying game pieces at the bottom. You must drag them onto the game board with your finger, and once you release your finger, the game piece will stay in the empty space that you place it on top of, if available. If you make a mistake, you can use the “Undo” button that appears where the second game piece was, but you are limited to three undos per round. Once you place both pieces onto the game board, the wind will blow and the top piece of the gems that you placed will blow over, as long as there’s an empty space. You can tell what direction the wind will blow by observing the arrow in the campfire on top of the board.
While the controls work out well enough, I did find it a little annoying that the game automatically moves the game piece to the bottom of the board the moment your finger touches it, and has a target crosshair that tells you where the piece is going to go. I can see why this is done, because then your finger is not going to cover up the piece and you can see where it’s going, but it has led me to accidentally place a piece in a wrong spot because I was thinking it would be going where my thumb is instead.
There are also power-ups that you can get in the game, but you’ll have to reach a certain point threshold to unlock them before they’re available to use. There are four available at the moment, and you will need to reach 2500, 5000, 10000, and 25000 points to get them, respectively. They do things like change the wind direction, turn a stack of gems upside down, break gems, and can turn selected gems into Rainbow Gems, which match with any color. If you are impatient and want to unlock these boosts now, then they will cost $0.99 a pop, except for the Rainbow one, which is $2.99.