Bit By Bit Games, developers of Endless Lines, really managed to piss me off! And I’m the most laid back person I know. You see I was quite prepared to give Endless Lines a relatively high score and a glowing report, in return for the game having provided me with hours of deep puzzling and multiple attempts at high score runs on their latest game. And then along comes an update for the game, which was put in place to help fix some bugs, and among other things, sort out the leaderboards within the game. By “sort out” I guess they really meant “change all your high scores to utterly ridiculous times”. What had been an 11 second, near perfect, run through on one of the easier modes, was actually replaced with a time of nearly an hour. What!?
Anyway, being the level headed and generous soul that I am (Ha!), I decided it would be only fair to review Endless Lines with as little reference to that update incident as possible. So now we can start this review afresh. Well I’m still knocking a point or two off at the end of things for the whole fiasco. I said I was generous, not fucking Saintly…
For once it’s nice to kick of a mobile game review without being forced to mention any of the usual suspects that get name dropped every five minutes in these things. However, just for a laugh, Endless Lines is not like Angry Birds or even Bejewelled. Hurrah! Although if we were going to go for any sort of comparison, you would have to imagine this game as a bizarre amalgamation of Scrabble, Tetris and Snake. You remember Snake? What the world once thought would be the cutting edge of mobile gaming. Such luddites we must have seemed like back in 2002… The playing field before you is an 8×8 grid of Scrabble tiles, with the appropriate letters replaced with different shaped lines. I almost went flashing back to Tetro Mania from last week, as our old Tetris friend, Mr ‘T’ Block, makes an appearance here. There is a straight line, and ‘L’ shaped line, and a cross-shaped, with two straight lines running perpendicular to one another. All tiles feature as rotations and mirror images of themselves, and it’s your task to slide them around to create a line that runs from the left side of the screen to the right.
You can slide every column and every row on the grid, moving the full set of eight tiles with the swipe of your finger. The lines on the tiles are blue to start with, and once they connect together to form the beginnings of a path across the screen, they change to red. Lady luck will sometimes open up a new game with a whole patch of tiles linked together, and let you just finish them off to gain a few easy points. When a full path is created, all associated tiles along the path are deleted, and replaced with new tiles. But there are times when none of the tiles seem to match up, and every time you try to create a winning line you wind up deleting the start of the path. It boils down to knowing when you can just swipe the rows across to put everything together, or dropping down columns of tiles to mix them up a bit, hoping for new combinations to reveal themselves. You can rely on the game to help the majority of the time, but your brain does get enough of a workout when you are frantically searching for any route you can create.
There are three gameplay modes to choose from. Blitz Mode sees you try to score as many points in 60 seconds. Sprint Mode asks you to pick a target score, 10,000, 30,000 or 80,000, and challenges you to get that score in the fastest time possible. Zen Mode has no time limits or targets, but simply lets you play for as long as you want, at your own pace. There are some neat special blocks to liven things up a little. Multiplier Blocks can be included in a path to increase your score, so you might earn x2, x3, x4 or even higher for your path. Bomb Blocks, when in a completed path, will destroy all remaining blocks in the row and column it sits in. The Lock Block adds a bonus chunk of challenge to proceedings, as the row and column containing a Lock Block cannot be moved at all. This means you need to focus on completing a path that travels through the Lock, to try and wipe it from the field. Act slowly, and another lock will appear, freezing another set of tiles. It’s nice trying to plot your way around destroying these, as more often than not, making basic paths just to score points in relatively easy.
One function that doesn’t seem to work at all is the Shake function. During gameplay, if you are stuck, you are supposed to be able to shake your device to mix up the tiles a bit, which to me sounds a little like cheating anyway, but when I’ve tried rotating, shaking, throwing, dropping and tumble-drying my iPhone in the name of trying to mix up the tiles, they remain resolutely glued to the spot. I don’t know, maybe it’s one of those “all-in-the-wrist” things? It’s not a function I seem to miss, so I wouldn’t worry about it to be honest.
The game is powered by OpenFeint, so you can join everyone else playing the game to compare your scores and times, if they haven’t been deleted by deadly updates- sorry, needed to give it another mention. It’s definitely worth it for puzzle-junkies such as myself, and it’s simple enough for anyone to pick up and play. A couple of small flaws prevent it from achieving that perfect mark, but I am sure plenty of you out there will get enjoyment from Endless Lines. At least until another update comes along that renders you impotent and kills your dog.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platforms: iOS Release date: 11/08/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Endless Lines for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an iPhone. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.