Squares - Challenging Puzzle Game ($0.99) by Matthias Hochgatterer is a minimalistic puzzle game that will make you think. Don’t be fooled by the simple graphics — this one will put your brain on overdrive. If you enjoyed games like ON/OFF, Dwelp, and Perfect Paths, then Squares is another fine gem to add to your collection.
Puzzle games — I just can’t get enough of them, especially on my iPhone. They’re the perfect kind of mobile game because you can pick them up and play anywhere, but put it down when needed. I also love that they keep my mind stimulated so I don’t become lazy with thinking critically about things. I have a ton of puzzles on my phone, but since I love the genre so much, I am always excited to find a new one to play. This is where Squares comes in.
Squares features the most basic visuals you could possibly imagine. The game consists of a white background with colored squares, some arrows, and large dots. It’s so elementary that pretty much anyone could have design it. Still, I am always fond of minimal design, so I like the style of the game, which also fits nicely with the flat aesthetics of iOS. The animations are smooth and fluid, and the transition of the squares from opaque to translucent is nice to see. There is no soundtrack to this game, but there are some nice sound effects when you complete a level.
Squares, like other puzzle games, is based on levels that are split up into several different packs of varying difficulty. Unfortunately, though, you have to go through all of the levels and packs in order to progress, so you can’t just start off with the “Intermediate” before the “Beginner” pack. While I understand why this is, I don’t like it — I prefer seeing a bit of flexibility in how I can play a game.
The goal of the game is to get the colored blocks to their respective matching dots. Each square will have an arrow on it that indicates the direction that it can move in when you tap on it. While this sounds easy enough, soon you’ll realize that there isn’t a direct path to the dots. For this, you have to use other blocks to shift the other ones around so they can get to their destination. There will also be other arrows on the screen that you can use to change a blocks direction, and more obstacles in the later levels.
Since Squares is dependent on color, this may prove to be a bit troublesome for colorblind people. Fortunately, there is an option for pattern overlay in the game settings that makes it possible to distinguish the squares from each other, and there is also a Light and Dark theme that you can toggle on.
Players can take as long as they want to on each level, as there is no time limit or move counter to worry about. If you make a mistake, you can keep undoing the last move, or just restart it. Since there are no points or anything to keep track of, there won’t be much in terms of replay value here, but the game is still enjoyable to play when you have a few moments. There is Game Center integration for leaderboards (level reached) and some achievements to obtain, though.
Despite the lack of replay value, Squares is a fun game, especially if you love puzzles. I hope that the developer continues to add more levels in the future, but even now, the 36 included levels are worth the dollar to check out.