I recently got my hands on the newest game from Itzy Interactive – Vex Puzzles. Vex Puzzles is a match 4/block elimination puzzle game with a few twists. Most notably, the way you actually have to twist your phone during some puzzles to move your blocks. Not all of Vex’s 480 puzzles require your phone’s accelerometer, but enough do that I would be sure to have two hands available during gameplay.
Upon starting the game, you’ll immediately noticed the vibrant graphics. The menu has a nice sci-fi feel to it, with a circuit board-type design in the foreground and space/planets in the background. The animation is very smooth, though there are options to toggle video quality and animation for lower end hardware. A FPS meter is shown in the settings, and the game recommends you choose a setting that keeps the FPS over 30 at all times. I had no problem keeping the settings at their highest quality on my Nexus 5, but lower options are available if needed. You’ll be warned during gameplay if your FPS starts to dip as well.
The music and sound effects fit well with the sci-fi theme too. The music has a nice ambient techno sort of sound. It goes nicely with the overall flow of the game. You know it’s there, but it doesn’t really get in your face. The sound effects are also quite good. There’s a pleasant sounding female “AI” voice that welcomes you to the game, and recaps each successful round – “Good” if you complete the level, but a more exciting “Vexceptional” or “Vextrodinary” when you complete the round with three stars. Sound effects during gameplay are equally appropriate. Notes ascend as you draw links across the blocks, there are satisfying blasting noises when you clear out your linked blocks, etc. The sounds just fit as they should.
Gameplay itself comes down to linking blocks together in order to remove them from the game board. You can choose in the settings whether you’d like to tap each block, or draw between blocks to connect them. I personally prefer the draw option, but you are able to choose whichever you like best. As I mentioned early on, four tiles need to be linked before anything can be removed. However, you’re not limited to four tiles. If you are able, you can remove all tiles from the board in one linked line. In many instances, this is required to get the “Vexceptional” score.
Each block has a different color, and different symbol. You can link blocks not only of the same color, but also blocks of the same symbol. This adds some complexity where linking clockwise might work, but counter-clockwise will not. You’ll also need to be careful – if you link too slowly, your chain will explode. As long as you plan out your chain before tapping/drawing you shouldn’t run into this issue though. In some cases, you will need to tilt and twist your phone to get the blocks into a better position to link. In some instances the correct way to tilt is obvious, in others not so much. In all cases, you’ll be politely asked to return your phone to it’s normal, portrait position after each puzzle in order to continue.
Vex Puzzles occasionally introduces special power ups used to remove blocks. For example, one removes all blocks in an ‘X’ shape on the board. Any time a new sort of block, or gameplay element is introduced a tutorial will show you how to use, or diffuse any new weapon or hazard. In these instances, you’re also given a free “solve” to see how the puzzle is completed automatically. You can view the tutorial and the solve for that level as many times as you’d like before moving on. You also have the option to solve any other puzzle automatically with a bank of “solves.” You start with 5, and can purchase more through in app payments. These solves do more than just skip the current level though. As they do with the tutorial levels, each solve will walk you through the appropriate steps required to finish each level with a perfect score. Extra solves are definitely optional; you don’t need them to get through every puzzle, but they’re a safety net if you need them. You can also skip several levels from the menu if you think moving forward will help. I had to take advantage of this feature a few times. Sometimes moving on to another puzzle will clear your head a bit.
With that being said, I still have quite a few puzzles left to finish! The full version of the game contains 480 puzzles in six categories – two each for Casual, Advanced, and Expert. The free version of the game contains half of the puzzles, and is ad-supported. Otherwise the versions are identical. Vex Puzzles also includes an option to create and submit your own puzzles. I’ve confirmed with the developer that some of the best user-submitted puzzles will be released periodically as free User Puzzle Packs. Free bonus content? Score!
Overall, I’ve had quite a lot of fun with Vex Puzzles. The Casual puzzles are easy to grasp, while the Advanced and Expert puzzles can really get quite challenging. With free versions available for both Android and iOS I can’t think of any reason why puzzle lovers shouldn’t give Vex Puzzles a try.
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