Review: Mosaique

By Kelsey Rinella 20 May 2013 0
Does anybody remember Tempest? Tetris and Tempest had a baby.

Casual mobile puzzlers are sufficiently common that it's very difficult to garner attention within that category. Winning Blimp have entered the fray with Mosaique, which offers pleasingly simple aesthetics and a moderately interesting spatial relations task. It's a slightly more cerebral and sedate take on Brickbreaker -- Arkanoid for the older, more design-conscious gamer.

The gameplay is so simple that it's instantly accessible: you just move the colored cursor around the outside of the field of play, and fire inward. Each shot uses a small amount of your "shot gauge". If your cursor matches the color of the block you hit, that block is cleared and the shot continues. If it doesn't, your cursor and that block switch colors (unless you hit a black block, which are simply obstacles, or a wild card block). The more blocks you clear with a single shot, the more they add to your shot gauge. If you manage to fill your shot gauge completely, you get a single shot which clears everything it hits, including black blocks.

Structuring this play experience is a division of puzzles into sets of seven, with gradually increasing difficulty. If you clear out all of the puzzles in a set seven days in a row, you get a score bonus and unlock an attractive, slightly less minimalist look. However, because Mosaique uses algorithmically-generated levels rather than developer-created ones, there's no effective limit* on the amount you can play, so there's no need to stop after clearing your set of seven puzzles for the day.

The unlockable prettier blocks. The first time I saw the eye, I thought of The Room. Very different experience.

Taken together, this yields an experience that's not that different from most puzzlers. It's nice enough to look at, and the bonus structure channels your play into relatively short chunks once a day, which might be quite appealing for those in need of something to fill ten or fifteen minutes daily on mass transit or the like. As with most spatial puzzles, Mosaique allows you to develop skill by slowly training your mind to find not only good options for making long rows of a single color, but also opportunities to do so while minimizing singletons and with relatively few setup shots. Once you develop sufficient skill to regularly beat the game, there's an expert mode which makes each shot cost more shot gauge, and it's dastardly. I have yet to beat a full set of seven puzzles on expert mode.

I pity developers of casual puzzle games these days. Here's a perfectly good game, which looks nice, plays well, seems original enough, and has an excellent interface for one-handed play on a phone, and it's hard to get excited about it. It's vaguely pleasant, much like Sporos or Follow the Rabbit or a hundred others, and it seems to be aiming to fill the sort of mental-exercise-of-familiar-patterns role which solitaire plays for a lot of people.

I can't really summon much enthusiasm for these mental sorbet courses, but that's almost what they're after. They help you refocus your mind on whatever happens afterward without much baggage from what came before. If they held your attention after you finished, they wouldn't do such a good job of clearing away persistent but no longer relevant thoughts and preparing you to move on. There's value in that, and Mosaique delivers it.

This review is based on the iPad edition.

* Technically, of course, since the state space is finite, even algorithmically-generated levels aren't infinitely varied, but you'll be pretty dead before you see them all.

Review: Mosaique

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