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Yankai’s Peak – a tactile puzzler that does things differently

Developer: Kenny Sun
Price: $3/£3
Size: 84 MB
Version: 1.0.5
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Yankai Peak

Update! Yankai’s Peak has received just a handful of minor technical and cosmetic updates immediately following its mid-2017 release. So how has Kenny Sun’s sharp-edged puzzler aged?

How does it play today? There’s still nothing quite like Yankai’s Peak on the App Store. Not that we’ve played, anyway, and certainly not with the same level of clean execution and presentation. The whole triangular rotation, corner-pinning mechanics melted our brain afresh when we booted it back up recently, which is a sure sign that Yankai’s Peak continues to offer something a bit special. It’s well worth checking out if you missed it the first time around.

Revised rating: Same hard-edged puzzler. ★★★★½


Our original review, written in June 2017, is presented in its entirety below.

Yankai’s Peak is quite unlike any other puzzler you might have played before – even if you’re familiar with developer Kenny Sun’s previous work.

Sun has made quite a name for himself with bracingly fresh puzzlers like Circle Infinity and Yankai’s Triangle. The main traits his games share are an experimental spirit and a tendency towards garishly abstract visuals.

Nudge the triangles into their like-colored ports

Basically, you shouldn’t put any money on a Kenny Sun match-three puzzler appearing on the App Store any time soon. Not while the developer is turning out such memorably brilliant efforts as Yankai’s Peak, at any rate.

The game grants you direct control of a blue equilateral triangle across a series of tight, angular grids. Using your triangle, you must shunt, flick, and rotate a series of other triangles into their color-coded pens.

Pin the corners to alter your rotation point

While you can freely shuffle across the grid in any direction, you’ll need to anchor one of your triangle’s three points in order to be able to rotate and lever the other shapes into position.

It’s the unorthodox interplay between these triangles that really makes Yankai’s Peak the beguiling head-scratcher that it is. You can feel fresh neural pathways being burned into your brain as you absorb unfamiliar yet vital techniques.

Rotating stacks of triangles is a key skill

There’s the trusty ability to rotate multiple triangles like a carousel by pinning the ‘middle’, and the counter-intuitive technique of rotating your triangle away in order to flick the edge of another and draw it into a new position.

It takes a relatively long time for these moves to click, and for trial-and-error to shift to well-thought-out planning. But during this process you’ll be kept from giving up by Yankai’s Peak’s pleasingly tactile controls and its surprisingly forgiving structure.

The level select screen always gives you options

You’re never penalized for wrong moves here. There are no arbitrary movement limits or undo quotas, and you can preview the effect of each move with a careful half-drag. What’s more, on those occasions where you get truly stuck – and there will be plenty – the game typically offers you the ability to head off and try some other puzzles.

Even when you’re in the midst of despair trying to figure out the solution to a particular level, Yankai’s Peak’s soothing abstract visuals will keep you from quitting in disgust. It really does achieve an awful lot with blocks of color and simple shapes.

Yankai’s Peak has a keen sense of style

Yankai’s Peak is a game for hardened puzzle fans, but it’s far from an alienating experience. Its tactile controls, beautiful visuals and generous structure make it an easy recommendation for anyone looking for something a little bit different.