Open Bar - Keep 'em coming! ($1.99) by Gingear Studio is a new puzzle game that will entertain you while making you crave a nice cocktail every now and then. If you enjoyed puzzles like Strata and Swapperoo, then you’re in for a real treat with Open Bar.
While I love games of all kinds across any platform, I have a special fondness for puzzle games on iOS. Puzzles are the games that make me think and prevent my brain from turning into mush while I relax, which I always appreciate. Plus, they’re just a great way to pass the time and it’s always better when the concept is something different than the saturated match-three market. When news of Open Bar hit my inbox, I was intrigued once I saw the trailer for Open Bar, but even more so after finding out the developer left Ubisoft to become an indie developer (it’s an interesting story and worth a read). So now that Open Bar is available to the public, it’s definitely a nice addition for any puzzle game collection.
The visuals in Open Bar are minimalistic, featuring simple shapes and soft colors in a flat aesthetic. While many may be getting tired of the flat trend, I still love it, especially when it’s done in a tasteful way like this game. And while the game appears flat overall, there is still a touch of depth to the graphics due to the subtle shadows. Open Bar’s default color theme is bright and vivid (makes you want a beer), though you can unlock many tasty variations as you solve puzzles and earn coins. The animations in Open Bar are one of my favorite things about the game, because the pieces smoothly move around, snap into place, or even wiggle to tell you that you can’t do that. Plus, the bubbly background is downright gorgeous, and it will entice you to hit the bar later due to the smooth and fluid animations. The game also has a rather upbeat and whimsical soundtrack that I just loved to listen to while figuring out solutions to the puzzles, and the sound effects are a nice touch.
In Open Bar, there is an endless amount of levels for you to solve — the App Store description doesn’t include a defined number, and you can’t just scroll ahead in the game to see how many more levels await you. The game just presents you a new puzzle as you solve the current one, so it’s hard to figure out just how many puzzles the game will throw at you during its lifetime. The goal of each puzzle is the same, though: line up the bars so that they run through the length or width of the grid in order to clear them out. Things start out simple enough with just two colors for the bars, but then more colors are added as you go, and the grid layouts become even trickier. Each level can be solved in three moves, though it’s harder to see the solution when you’re in the later levels, of course. If you’re stuck at any time, you can use a hint — the game has no in-app purchases, so you don’t have to worry about using up hints and having to buy more, which is pretty nice.
On each level, you’ll have a grid with a mishmash of colored bars on it. Along the bottom will be some more bars that are arranged like plus symbols, and you can tap on them to rotate the direction of the colored lines. As you have to line up the bars on the grid so that they run the entire length or width of the section it’s in, you can just drag the current bars around, and the new piece will go into the last spot of the bar you moved. Or you can just drag the new piece onto the board itself, but you can’t place it on top of a square that already has a bar in it. I know — it sounds confusing, but once you get the basics, it’s pretty easy. It also helps to watch clips of the gameplay, which are conveniently in this review.
As you solve puzzles, you’ll be awarded coins. Sometimes, you even get bonus coins that are “on the house,” which is pretty generous of the developer. The coins are used to purchase tasty new color themes that are modeled after real cocktail drinks, and collecting them all can be a nice way to motivate you to keep playing. After all, it’s an endless stream of delicious puzzles here, which are perfect for whenever you have a spare minute or hour.
Since I’m a big fan of puzzle games, I loved Open Bar the minute I saw the gameplay trailer. Seriously, the visuals in this game are just stunning, especially the sleek background bubble animations. The music is charming, the controls are simple, and the puzzles can be pretty challenging, which is always nice to have. I love the infinite number of levels, and unlocking and collecting new cocktail flavored color themes adds to the replay value. This is a puzzle game that I will be playing for a long time to come.
I highly recommend Open Bar if you enjoy cocktails and love puzzle games. You can get Open Bar – Keep ’em coming! on the App Store as a universal download on the App Store for just $1.99. There are no in-app purchases, so the cover charge grants you full access to everything.