During September and October last year, there was a run of particularly interesting puzzle games released for the iPhone. It started with Cat on a Diet, continued with Strata, and finally ended up with Kami. The subject of our review this week, Lyne, comes soon after Matchagon, suggesting we’re about to get another triple-bill of cool puzzle apps. Lyne shares a considerable similarity with both Kami and Strata, and chances are, if you liked them, you’ll be equally enamored with this.
In Lyne, you’re given a board with varying numbers of shapes on it. Usually split into two or more colours, the shapes have a clear start and end point, and it’s your job to link them together. This is done by connecting all the same coloured shapes together. The traced line can’t have any breaks, and can’t cross or repeat another line connecting up two other points. Sometimes, blocks which must be passed through twice appear. A level is complete when all the shapes are connected up.
It’s hard to get across how simple Lyne is, as written down, it sounds far more complex than it is. But once you’ve played two or three levels, you know all there is about it. There are no tricks to learn, no cheats to perfect, and no frustrating check points to pass. It’s a stripped out puzzle game aimed at the thinker, not the adrenaline junkie. However, don’t take this as proof it’s easy. Like all the best casual puzzle games, it still manages to give you the occasional challenge.
Fire up Lyne and you’re greeted with a single color background, a minimalist typeface, and only one button to tap. Start the game and it’s equally sparse, and as all you need to do is slide your finger around the screen to manipulate the shapes, there’s not much going on with the control system either. Match this with the basic gameplay, and it’s hardly a recipe for a must-have game.
Yet if you’re a puzzle fan, then Lyne needs to be on your wish list. Just be warned: it’s not exciting, doesn’t have any bells or whistles, and won’t leave you breathless when you complete a level. None of this matters though. The game is addictive because it’s basic. It’s also very calming, and it’s a refreshing change not to play a game which goes out of its way to raise your heart rate. The game has a soothing, new-age-style soundtrack, which used anywhere else would probably be intolerable. Here, it’s spot on.
There are a lot of levels to play through, but it’s worth pointing out the vast majority are quite easy. Once you’re familiar with the way Lyne works, levels can be passed in a very short amount of time. Stages are split into blocks of 25, and only about five or at the most, ten are real brain teasers. Oddly, we’re happy with this split. It’s not the end of the world, and playing a game which doesn’t try to disguise a lack of levels by making them impossibly difficult is rather nice. There’s no lack of levels in Lyne though. In addition to the untold number of built-in levels, a new set of levels is added each day, but you only have 24-hours to complete them. Your interest in Lyne will dissipate long before you run out of puzzles to complete.
Lyne costs £1.99 and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad. There’re oodles of long-term appeal, and it’s not sullied by annoying ads or in-app purchases designed to keep the money rolling in. It’s an honest, simple, elegantly designed, calming and surprisingly additive puzzle game, which we highly recommend.