BLUK ($1.99) by Deepak Madathil and Pixel Ape Studios is a physics-based platformer game where you control a single block with magical abilities. If you’re a fan of skill-based games, then Bluk is one that you should check out.
As a gamer for a little over a decade now (didn’t fully get into video games until I hit high school), I’ve gone through a lot of mobile games since I’ve started at AppAdvice. Even though my latest addiction has been Pokémon Go since it’s release in July (I’ve been out for hours at a time just walking around), I like to come home and kick back with more games that don’t require me to put my feet to work. For these moments of the day, I love relaxing games that still keep my mind stimulated, because that’s just a terrible thing to waste. When the news of Bluk hit my inbox, I was pretty excited to check it out, since one of the guys behind Bluk also created Blyss, another recent favorite. Needless to say, I’m not disappointed by what Bluk brings to the table.
Visually speaking, Bluk reminds me a lot of Monument Valley because of the abstract, isometric visuals that have a minimalistic aesthetic to them. While some may not like how almost every other game tries to copy Monument Valley’s style, I like it, as it calms me every time I see such graphics. Bluk features simplistic architectural structures within a soft, pastel-colored world that does turn dark at some points, and it’s just a nice visual treat for the eyes. The 3-D rendering is great, with the foreground in sharp contrast to the objects in the far distance, and I truly love the colors that they chose to represent the world of Bluk. Animations are buttery smooth, and the ambient soundtrack helps soothe your soul as you focus on the game itself. Overall, Bluk is a great visual and audio package that will delight everyone.
In Bluk, players control a block that has special abilities, and you find yourself on a journey to uncover a darkness that is disrupting the eternal harmony of the realm. There are several different worlds in Bluk, which you can traverse through one-by-one. The transitions between worlds is done seamlessly, as you’ll just notice by the change in pillar color, and the background color shifts over. Once you reach a new world, you’ll be able to start from that point on a new run, rather than starting from the very first world each time. The new areas that you’ll uncover will introduce their own peculiar obstacles that you’ll have to overcome, so the variety and difficulty of the game is kept fresh and interesting. The game is also pretty lenient on how you can play, as well, since you can either go through the rather abstract story, or just always play endlessly.
Controls in Bluk are simple enough for everyone to understand. The block starts out on a pillar, and there are many more pillars that are laid out in front of it. You just drag your finger on the screen to aim the block with the dotted trajectory line, and then release your finger to jump. It’s like Angry Birds controls, except without the annoying birds and pigs. The goal is to land on the next pillar without falling, and if you manage to land inside of the square on the pillar surface, you’ll earn bonus points for the “perfect landing.” If you don’t land in the square, you’ll still get one point for a successful landing. The moment you fail to land and fall, the run ends and you’ll see your high score. You can then choose to retry from your chosen starting point, or you can go to the main menu and pick a different one.
The game starts out pretty easy, but naturally, the difficulty amps up as you get further in. Eventually, you’ll find pillars that will topple as you jump, or they’ll start to fall one piece at a time, so you’ll have to work quickly to make it to the next pillar. However, the block will also find runes at certain points, and these runes unlock new abilities, such as extending your trajectory line so that you can be more accurate with the jumps. There’s only five runes to find, and you can easily see your progress on the title screen. Bluk also has achievements that you can obtain, leaderboards to compete on, and even a Hall of Fame, so the replay value is extended.
I’m still early on in the game, but Bluk is proving to be a fun and challenging game that is not like anything I’ve played on mobile before. The graphics are gorgeous due to the clean aesthetics and colors, the music is tranquil, and the one-touch controls are intuitive. The gameplay itself is distinctive and the difficulty amps up at a nice, gradual pace. I’m really enjoying the game so far, and it’s definitely a title I’ll be coming back to when I have time to kill.
I recommend checking out Bluk if you’re a fan of physics-based platformer games that require both skill and patience. Bluk is on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for $1.99.