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Unloop Review: a stylish lock-picking puzzler

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Developer: Jurij Galievskij
Price: $1.99/£1.99
Size: 63.3 MB
Version: 1.1.1
Platform: iPhone & iPad


At their best and most involved, Unloop’s minimalist puzzles feel like delicately unpicking a lock. At other times, they can feel more like unknotting a bundled up length of string.

You spend the initial phase of each puzzle tracking where each line on an abstract circuit diagram leads to. You’ll note where these lines cross, and which of said lines holds the top position.

Watch out for crossing lines

It’s only then that you can turn your attention to untangling the whole glorious mess. Tapping the little anchor point will draw in the relevant spidery line, but you’ll need to make sure there’s a clear path back to the glowing node point that will make a fully retracted line disappear.

Pretty soon, you’ll encounter further complications and empowering abilities. There are junction boxes that must be flipped to dictate which lines are active, and unusually shaped lines that might hook on another as they retract.

Puzzles can feel like picking a lock

This tasteful, understated puzzler comes with a suitably well judged onboarding system. Solo developer Jurij Galievskij cleverly adopts the “show, don’t tell” approach to tutorials. When a new mechanic needs to be introduced, you’ll be given a couple of very easy puzzles to toy with, rather than a paragraph of banal text.

You’ll learn through doing, and this experimental feel is bolstered by a lack of time limits. You have two lives, which permits you a mistake, but the ultimate penalty of a restart is really no penalty at all.

Unloop introduces its mechanics organically and wordlessly

Also assisting with Unloop’s relaxed, meditative air is its relaxed, meditative presentation. It’s all sober colours, plain backgrounds (though there is a limited choice on this front), and a blissed out ambient soundtrack. Lovely.

Unloop won’t be every puzzle fan’s cup of tea. Its various visual elements don’t always immediately tip you off as to how the related mechanism will operate, so there is a definite learning curve.

There are three subdued backgrounds to choose from

Some may miss the incentive to revisit puzzles and do them better or more efficiently, too. The best way to approach the knottier puzzles is to simply chip away cautiously at the clear and easy bits in order to make things clearer, somewhat like a Sudoku puzzle or crossword. Again, this will be music to the ears of some, but you don’t always get that endorphin rush that accompanies the ‘Eureka’ moments of the iPhone’s best puzzlers.

That’s quite enough talking about what this game isn’t, though. Unloop’s tactile and fastidious nature makes for an extremely compelling – if low-key – spatial puzzler.