A satisfying game of quick-fire counting
Price: Free (IAPs)
Size: 83.8 MB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Estiman is all about the art of estimation. It’s a test of how quickly and accurately you can evaluate a jumble of shapes, wrapped up in a strangely relaxing arcade experience. Each round, you’re shown a screen of colorful neon shapes, split into four distinct groups. Your job is to quickly scan the mess to figure out which group is the biggest. Successfully tap the largest group and the shapes will satisfyingly pop out of existence, leaving you to pick the next largest group, and so on. Clear the screen and a slightly more complex grouping of shapes will appear. Continue ad infinitum, or until you mess up.
So far, so easy, right? Before long, though, the once contrasting colors will fade to more or less matching hues. Combine this with more and more shapes every turn and its easy to make mistakes. Soon you’ll be facing a huge array of dark blue shapes, and will realize that quickly distinguishing between a dozen circles and fourteen hexagons is easier said than done. One mistake and you’ll have to start over again.
The whole thing feels a bit like counting a handful of coins with a single, fleeting glance – and the tactile popping sounds are really addictive. Every successful match adds to a constantly draining combo meter, meaning you score more points the faster you play. You cannot lose the game by running out of time, but pause for too long and the score multiplier will tick all the way back down to nothing. Speed is of the essence if you’re shooting for a high score, but players who aren’t bothered about points can really take their time.
There are two power-ups which can be used to make things easier, though the lack of real time restraints renders them slightly worthless. One stops the combo meter depleting for a few seconds, while the other will automatically pop the correct group if you’re struggling to spot it. These can be bought with in-game “credits,” but realistically these are earned so slowly that you’ll need to spend actual money on IAP to get any usage out of them.
These credits can also be used to purchase new “skins,” radically changing the design of the shapes that need counting. Instead of colored shapes, you can unlock beautiful watery bubbles that float in zero gravity, or colorful glowing orbs. The bubbles in particular look great and are super satisfying to pop, but where these unlocks fall down is that some of them make the game a bit too easy. Whereas the regular game eventually makes things harder by turning all the shapes the same color, some of the expansions stick with greatly contrasting colors even into the later levels, which makes it much simpler to differentiate between them.
Additionally, this game has some bizarre oversights. No pause button, for example, meaning you’re out of luck if you get an important call midway through a great run. And if you pay to remove the annoying ads that pop up every few turns, you lose the option to watch a video ad for a free revive after making a mistake. This in particular feels like being punished for supporting the developers.
If you’re the type of player that aims for high scores, Estiman is a bit unfair. You can almost buy your way to the top with bizarrely expensive IAP and design alterations that make things too easy. But if you’re just here to have a good time, the relaxing gameplay is blissful. It combines the skills of spatial awareness with the simple joys of popping bubble wrap. And for a (largely) free game, maybe that’s enough.