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A Way To Smash – a stylish, violent… puzzle game?

Developer: Vladislav Vasilev
Price: Free
Size: 242 MB
Version: 1.01
Platform: iPhone & iPad

A Way to Smash

A Way To Smash appears to present itself as a classic brawler, with your weapon-wielding hero taking on a handful of goons one brutal swing of a baseball bat (other weapons are available) at a time.

However, it very rapidly becomes apparent that this is actually a turn-based strategy game boiled down to its very essence, to the extent that it ends up resembling an extremely pure puzzler.

Yellow characters will converge on your character

You start each level surrounded by various configurations of enemy combatants. Double tapping on one will have your hero attack, but it will also encourage immediately adjacent enemies to attack you, and nearby enemies to move toward you.

The trick to acing each stage, then, is to pick out an appropriate path of destruction that keeps you one step ahead of the chasing pack at all times, all whilst steadily whittling down those enemy numbers. If you can cut that destructive swathe before a timer runs down, you’ll get an even better score.

There are some familiar-looking unlockable characters

Soon enough, additional elements start to come into play, whether that’s a more congested battlefield, enemies standing very close to one another, or opponents that can take extra hits. It’s all rendered in an extremely stylish comic book art style.

The trickier levels can be maddeningly exacting, and at several points you’ll swear blind there’s no natural solution. It’s an unfounded suspicion that likely arises because you can buy in-game special attacks to accompany your chosen character’s steadily regenerating special move.

The illustrated art style is extremely cool

For example, if stumped you can always lob a grenade into the mix, preview the optimal path, or launch some other game-breaking assault. You can use an in-game currency for this, but as things get more difficult you might feel compelled to splash out for real.

More problematic than these difficulty spikes is the game’s annoying controls and limiting camera perspective. Particularly on iPhones with smaller displays, it can be frustratingly hit and miss selecting the right target.

Some enemies can take multiple hits

This is made even trickier when you have to zoom and pan out to bring a distant enemy into view, which then in turn makes them harder to select.

This isn’t strictly speaking an original conceit, either. If any of this sounds at all familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve played one of our favorite games of 2018, A Way to Slay.

Speed is essential for the best scores

That older game came from the same developer and offered a very similar (albeit much bloodier) brand of turn-based violence.

All issues aside, A Way To Smash remains a compellingly aggressive and stylish puzzler. While it doesn’t emerge from the fight unscathed, it sure packs a punch.