When times get tough, I like to escape reality for a little bit and chill out with some video games. Usually I am game for almost any genre, but some of my favorites for relaxing involve puzzle games and high score chasers, because I like to try to best myself. However, over the years, I’ve gone through a ton of puzzle games and while there’s plenty to choose from in the oversaturated market, there’s one problem: originality and uniqueness. Most puzzle games are just variants of each other, and there’s nothing truly special about it. That’s why when I saw Windin on the App Store, I was intrigued by the game’s distinctive game mechanic: wind. A lot of match-three puzzles are the same thing, where you swap adjacent pieces together or position tiles so that like-colored pieces can get grouped together, but they’re always static, with no dynamic changes happening. Windin sets out to be different, and it does so in a beautiful way.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
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.
The added element of wind keeps things fresh and interesting throughout this match-three game, and you never know what's coming next, which just adds to the challenge.
Windin is definitely an enjoyable title for anyone who likes puzzle games that are designed to be played in quick sessions throughout the day. The game packs in some lovely visuals and sound effects, and the wind gameplay mechanic makes it more challenging than what you may originally think. It reminds me of Tetris in a way, since you can see the game pieces that you’re working with, but you can’t see the direction the wind will blow in on the next turn, which just adds to the surprise and challenge of the game, which I like.
Since Windin is a free game, it does have ads. Fortunately, the ads only show up between rounds, so you’ll never be interrupted during the game itself. I do feel that the point threshold for the power-ups is set a little high, though, and should be lowered just a tad, as I have yet to even reach the first unlock. In some ways, it feels like the developers are pushing for you to purchase the power-ups with the bar set so high, which I am not a fan of. At least the game can still be enjoyed without the boosts, though, so there’s that.
I’ve only discovered Windin over the weekend, but so far I’m having a hard time putting it down. I’m a total sucker for puzzle games, and this one is a match-three with a unique twist, which is the added wind element. It means more strategic planning of where you lay your game pieces down, and not knowing what direction the wind changes to keeps things exciting. The only thing I don’t particularly care for is the fact that the boost items are locked behind point thresholds that seem a bit high to reach, thus pushing you towards unlocking via in-app purchase.
Windin is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for free. There are in-app purchases.