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Price: Free to download
IAP: $1/£1 full unlock
Developer: Tortuga Xel Studio
While we like to maintain a nicely varied mobile gaming diet, it’s probably fair to say that stylish puzzlers are our bread and butter. Games like Vía from developer Tortuga Xel Studio.
This handsome, chilled out maze runner sees you tapping to shift a square crystal around a series of top-down grids, collecting three trinkets on the way to the exit. Like the original mobile game Snake, however, you will leave a solid trail in your wake, meaning you can’t cross over where you’ve already been.
As you work your way through Vía’s 100 levels (the first 30 of which are free) you’ll encounter subtle embellishments, such as switches that need to be flipped from a specific angle, or gates with color-coded keys. In all of this we were put in mind of the simple-but-fiendish puzzles at the heart of The Witness, minus the sprawling island overworld, and without the same level of variety and ingenuity.
Vía doesn’t lack visual polish, however. There’s a beautifully stripped back art style at play here, with each set of colour-themed ‘paths’ represented by the 3D mesh outline of an animal. As you solve the levels, the triangular components of these animals are gradually colored in.
Our only complaint on the aesthetic front is that there isn’t any real thematic link between all these disparate elements. On the audio front, thinks are suitably understated, with no music and a range of echoey swooshes accompanying your every move.
This is an incredibly chilled out, easy-going experience. There’s no time pressure to complete the levels, and you can back up to any previous point along your chosen path without penalty.
Indeed, once you’ve clicked with the game’s requirements, you’ll sweep through the entire first of three ‘seasons’ with only the occasional pause for thought. There are typically multiple ways to tackle a stage too, so you’re not left scratching your head over the perfect run.
To be clear, Vía’s laid back nature is a strength, not a weakness. Unless you have a hankering for a serious challenge (in which case, check out something like Yankai’s Peak, or indeed The Witness), serenely progressing through the game’s levels feels almost therapeutic.
Vía isn’t the smartest or freshest puzzler you’ll play this year. But it is the kind of well-made, inviting brain-tickler that will keep you more than satisfied until the next one comes along.
- Laid back puzzling
- Pleasant art style
- Lots of free content
- Not hugely original
- Aesthetic not massively cohesive