Game

Reckon puzzle games are lacking in depth? Try not to drown in twofold’s complexity!

Price: $3.99/£2.99
Version: 1.1.8
Size: 32.3 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Developer: webbfarbror AB

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It’s a pity there’s already an iPhone game called Rules! — that would otherwise have been the perfect moniker for twofold inc. Because although this game might seem simple on the surface, its mechanics afford a deeper, far more strategic experience than is immediately apparent.

You start with a grid of colored tiles and sets of requests that sit next to a cycloptic cartoon robot. Requests comprise one or more numbers, each tied to a colour. You then drag across strings of like-colored tiles in order to fulfil the request.

Poor board management has left too many blues and few valid moves here.

Poor board management has left too many blues and few valid moves here

It’s the rules that make things interesting and, initially, baffling. Any colored group of tiles must always be removed in its entirety, otherwise it’s not a valid move; but this is only possible if you can drag an unbroken line through them all, in one go. The game helpfully makes valid moves brighter, saving you having to hunt and test every group on the board. The value of tile strings increases exponentially as well, so two tiles gives you four points, three gives you eight, and so on.

The board can be shifted around, using arrows at its edge, but requests have countdowns, which reduce with every move (tile removal or board adjustment) you make. Additionally, clearing a request can provide bonus moves to it and/or other requests. Hit zero and fail a request and you lose one of four lives, but the value of the missed request halves, giving you a shot at completing it. Complete a round of requests and you get a life back. Also, make suitably long chains and you fill spare tiles at the foot of the screen, which can at any point be dragged on to the main board.

This large chain will obliterate all white requests and also part fill the white spare slots below.

This large chain will obliterate all white requests and also part fill the white spare tile slots below

Confused? You will be! But twofold inc. is rewarding to fans of puzzle games, especially those with a stubborn streak. At first, it seems almost random. You will find yourself tasked with getting a load of yellow tiles at some point, with the board being largely clear of them. But sooner or later, you figure out tricks to survive. If your requests are almost complete and you have spare moves, you can spend them making the board better for the next round. Or if you’re having trouble with a specific request, you can intentionally sacrifice a life to drive the request’s value down, safe in the knowledge you’ll get that life back on completing the round.

We need a bigger yellow chain, and so our sole yellow spare is dragged to the board.

We need a bigger yellow chain, and so our sole yellow spare is dragged to the board

It’s tough to know whether twofold inc. can ever be truly mastered, though. Even after weeks of play, there’s a sense its marriage of complexity and randomness is only tameable to a certain degree. And yet the mix of gorgeous visuals, pleasing music, and brain-smashing rules remains compelling and surprisingly fresh, even if it does punch you in the face slightly too often.

Review: twofold inc. – a great-looking brain-smashing puzzler
Convoluted and likely to make your brain hurt, twofold inc. is nonetheless a worthy addition to a puzzle-fan’s device.
For
  • Plenty of depth and scope for strategy
  • Welcoming visuals and audio
  • Short games are suitable for mobile play
Against
  • Confusing from the get-go
  • Can often feel unfair
  • Tutorial seems incomplete
4.0Overall Score