Domino Drop ($1.99) by Vitalii Zlotskii is a new puzzle game that is all about dominoes and gravity. While it may sound simple in concept, it’s much more difficult than it looks. These aren’t your typical dominoes, after all. If you enjoyed other puzzle games like Shibuya Grandmaster and Pair Solitaire, then you will enjoy Domino Drop.
When it comes to games on my iPhone, my favorite genre will always reign supreme, and that is the puzzle game. I am a big fan of puzzles because while the gameplay is usually straightforward, the games always make you think about your moves before you make them. I mean, who doesn’t like a stimulating game every now and then? It’s a way to have some fun while keeping your mind sharp, after all. When I got the news in my inbox that the guy behind Pair Solitaire was releasing a new game, I got excited. This is due to the fact that I adored Pair Solitaire, having played it daily for months, so I knew that Domino Drop could be another hit for me.
The visuals in Domino Drop follow a skeuomorphic style, making it feel like you are playing with a real domino set. While I haven’t been a big fan of skeuomorphism ever since iOS 7, I believe that it works great in Domino Drop. The wooden case for the dominoes to fall in, the little USB dongle that plugs in to the board to show your high scores, the faux record player when you pause, and the dominoes themselves — they all look fantastic, and show that the developer put in a lot of small details and textures to make the game feel as real as possible. Animations in Domino Drop are smooth and fluid, as I had no lag when playing. The game also has a soothing jazz soundtrack that plays, which I found to be relaxing and fits in with the theme. To go with the skeuomorphic feel, the music is complete with the scratches that you only get when listening to a vinyl record.
There are three game modes in Domino Drop: Classic, Tails, and Pro. The Classic mode is what you will probably spend the most time with in the beginning, as you learn the ropes of the game. It is pretty straightforward: drop the dominoes on the board and make matches of at least two colors to clear them out and have the other pieces fall down. The white squares need to be in a cluster of at least four to be cleared, meaning that there will be extra planning required for those pieces. On top of that, Classic shows you a preview of the next piece, similar to Tetris, so you can plan ahead. You get points for making matches.
Tails mode is similar to Classic, except that the white squares have numbers on them. The number means how many white pieces you have to group together at the time to clear them. Once you get that match, all white pieces are cleared from the board, and then the number of matches required increases by one. Your score is determined by how high you got the white tile number to.
Pro is a more advanced version of Classic. The mechanic here is the same, but there’s a catch: you cannot see what the upcoming piece will be. This means that it will always be a surprise, so you will always have to be prepared for what the game decides to toss your way. Scoring in Pro is the same as Classic.
Controls in Domino Drop are simple and intuitive. Since there is no time limit to any of the modes, you can strategize about how to place the dominoes on the board for the most effectiveness. The domino appears at the top of the board, and you move it horizontally by swiping your finger. A ghost of the piece shows up underneath so you can see where it is going. The moment you release your finger, the domino drops. There is no way to rotate the dominoes before they fall in place, which is what makes the game so challenging. When the board is full, then it means game over.
Like other puzzle games, Domino Drop has a lot of replay value due to the challenge that each of the three game modes offers. This is one of those titles that is simple to learn but difficult to master, and it will always be a different experience each time. To top things off, there is Game Center integration for leaderboards, so you can see who is the best domino master among your friends or even globally.
I’m a big fan of puzzle games, especially from this developer after discovering Pair Solitaire last year, so I’m happy with Domino Drop. The graphics are stunning, the music is easy to listen to, and the gameplay is another addictive challenge that I’m having a hard time putting down. This is a game that I’ll be coming back to for a long time.
I highly recommend checking out Domino Drop if you haven’t already, especially if you love puzzle games. You can find Domino Drop on the App Store as a universal download for $1.99.