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Review: Zerko is a classy Sudoku-inspired puzzler

Developer: Maciej Targoni
Price: $1.99/£1.99 [Free intro]
Size: 104 MB
Version: 1.0
Platform: iPhone & iPad


While Zerko doesn’t play quite like Maciej Targoni’s previous games, you can tell this is from the same mind as HOOK 2, Klocki, and PUSH from the off.

It’s another compact yet classy puzzler with a clean abstract visual, a simple yet clever premise, and a complete absence of freemium fluff. This time around the inspiration is Sudoku, though only in the sense that you need to justify the numerical values bordering a grid. The rest is original.

Get the boundary figures down to ‘0’

Rather than writing numbers into a uniform grid, you’re here having to slot numbered Tetris-like shapes into a series of irregularly proportioned grid squares. All you need to do is ensure that each grid square has its numerical value met by one or more shape.

Each grid quickly turns into an abstract jigsaw of sorts, as spatial recognition rubs up against basic math and intuition.

The field can get cluttered on smaller devices

The starting point for each level has a whiff of Sudoku to it, as you pick out the single squares that cut out the variables. Once these foundational blocks are in place, you can build from there.

It’s extremely satisfying to build your way through Zerko’s puzzles, and before long you’ll be nearing the end of the game. Part of that comes down to the tactile premise and expert balancing, but it also comes down to the fact that the game is very short at only 50 levels long.

Aim for the foundational gimme squares first

The developer claims in the blurb that they will provide more levels if the game is sufficiently popular, but it’s easy to feel ever so slightly short changed off the bat.

There’s also a slight legibility issue, at least on smaller iPhones. Things start getting rather cluttered around level 30, with playing pieces slipping off the side of the screen.

There’s a Dark mode, and that’s about it for personalisation

At one point I thought the game was actively broken, only to realise that the vital playing piece was hidden from view, and that I needed to pinch to zoom out in order to bring it into play.

These quibbles are all things that can and probably will be solved with time and effort from a developer with a solid track record. For now, Zerko is a small but not-quite-perfectly formed puzzler of real class.