Wedding Escape (Free) by Rafael Lima is a cute match-three puzzle game that is unlike anything you’ve played before, which is a welcome change in the oversaturated App Store. Plus, who doesn’t like to see a disastrous wedding go down in which the groom or bride makes their crafty escape from everyone chasing them down? If you enjoyed games like Tile Enigma and Hero Emblems, then you are going to get a kick out of Wedding Escape.
If you know me, then you should realize that one of my favorite things ever on iOS are puzzle games, specifically of the match-three variety. This love started with classic PopCap games like Bejeweled, and it’s only gotten bigger since then. However, one thing I’ve noticed with all of the match-three puzzles in the App Store is the fact that they are all essentially the same thing, but with a different skin. Sure, you have the Puzzles & Dragons mechanic in some games, where you can freely move pieces around instead of just swapping with adjacent ones, but there hasn’t been anything else in the genre that’s as innovative. That is, until Wedding Escape came along, and it is refreshing.
The visual style of Wedding Escape is cartoonish but beautiful. All of the blocky and chubby character models remind me a bit of the art in Hero Emblems and Battleheart, but that’s not a bad thing, and it adds to the overall charm of this game. As you make your grand escape from the matrimonial life, you will come across different environments that are all highly detailed, and the colors are vibrant and rich. The animations in the game are smooth and fluid, with no lag on my iPhone 6. In fact, visually, the game is superb, and that is impressive considering that it is made by a single person. The background music is quirky but soothing, and the squeaky sound effects of your character are endearing.
Wedding Escape starts out with your character (the groom) at the altar, when he suddenly gets cold feet and just can’t go through with it. Then he will dash, and the game begins. The gameplay of Wedding Escape can be described as somewhat endless, since you are going through different levels to see how far you can get without tying the knot. Each level is a different area, and you have to clear out a certain amount of tiles in a limited number of moves to advance to the next stage. While the game starts out fairly easy, things get difficult quickly when you have to clear out at least 100 tiles to move forward. However, because the game mechanics are so different, you’ll just keep coming back for more.
In all of the levels, players are presented with a grid that is filled with coin and diamond tiles. However you’ll notice that there are only two colors of both diamonds and coins. To make matches, you need to flip pieces to change their color, rather than swapping them around with each other. This can be done by tapping on a single piece, or you can drag your finger around to adjacent pieces to swap colors of up to five tiles at once. This breaks the traditional match-three convention, and I welcome it with open arms — the resulting gameplay is much more challenging and addictive. Plus, there is so much potential for massive combos if done right. If a flip does not make any matches, then that move is not counted against you.
As you make progress in your escape, you will unlock power-ups that you can use on special pieces, which are made by matches of five or more. The power-ups are found above the grid, and to use them, just tap on the one you want, then pick the piece to use it on. But be warned — these count as a move too, so use them to their fullest. The power-ups are bomb (blow up adjacent tiles), mine (clear out pieces in a cross format), magnet (all pieces of one color are cleared out), and flip all. If you make a match with a special tile (indicated by glows or a number attached), then you get bonus tiles to go along with it, as those pieces are like stacks of tiles.
When you are out of moves and did not clear the required amount of tiles for the level, you will be “caught,” but if you choose to watch a video, you can get more coins. Otherwise, you’ll have to “Divorce” and try again. Your score is determined by how many pieces you managed to match up on the run and how many moves are left. Having leftover moves also means a bit more coins in your pocket too.
So what are the coins used for? Wedding Escape has a character system that is similar to Crossy Road, where you can get a surprise gift that contains a new character (or repeat if you have most of them) if you spend 100 coins. Or you can buy characters for $0.99 a pop if you see one you need to have but haven’t had luck getting it. Unfortunately, the characters are nothing but cosmetic, so they don’t have any special abilities or even add cool effects to the game like in Crossy Road.
In addition to the in-app purchases for characters, players can go for a coin doubler ($1.99) to increase the rate at which they earn coins, or even quadruple coins ($4.99), so you earn coins at four times the speed. These also include bonus coins when you purchase them, and the quadruple option allows you to skip the videos immediately.
The game has Game Center support for leaderboards and achievements, though the latter only has five, and they’re pretty easy to obtain. Hopefully more can be added in the future, because there should be achievements for getting massive combos and the like. Still, the unique gameplay and leaderboards help with replay value — I know because I seriously can’t put this game down.
I highly recommend checking out Wedding Escape if you want a new puzzle game to play during the weekend or whenever you have some spare time. The visuals are fantastic, the music and sounds are delightful, and the distinctive gameplay is simple to learn but hard to master, making the game a nice challenge. This is a must-have for any puzzle game fan.