A mysterious puzzler set in a beautiful world of floating cubes
Size: 193 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
On first glance, Warp Shift looks like the disembodied front face of a Rubik’s Cube, or a surreal reproduction of TV’s Hollywood Squares. A formation of hollowed blue cubes float gently through the skies, with brightly colored openings cut intermittently into their sides. A young girl hovers effortlessly inside one of the cubes, while a mysterious glowing portal fills another. The aim of the game is to rearrange the cubes to help the former pass through the maze-like structure in search of the latter.
The rules are relatively simple. Our protagonist, a girl named Pi, can move between adjacent cubes only when their openings line up. You can rearrange everything by swiping across rows and columns, with cubes pushed off one edge of the formation reappearing on the opposing side. It’s your job to line up the colored apertures in a way that allows Pi to traverse through them to the goal. Control-wise its intuitive and easy, using swipes to move the cubes and taps to move the girl, with spaces automatically lighting up as they become accessible.
Later on things become slightly more complex as more rules are added: pink gates won’t open unless color-matched, for example, while red ones unlock at the press of a button. In some stages, Pi’s “magical companion” – a blocky robot head – must be collected before the portal can be entered. It all makes for a potentially confusing sequence of movements, but it’s very satisfying to puzzle over a challenge for a few minutes before finally hitting that eureka moment as everything slots into place. Even the toughest solutions look so easy when you finally complete them.
The goal is to complete each level in as few moves as possible, with levels awarding up to three stars depending on the efficiency of your puzzle-solving. Take too circuitous a route, and you could even receive a miserly zero stars for your efforts. Later in the game it becomes seriously tough to find the optimal path, but nabbing stars is important as they’re needed – in large volume – to unlock the later levels. There’s a hint system at play here, offering walkthroughs to three levels for free and charging for more via in-app purchases. These kind of purchases sometimes feel a little cheeky in a premium game, but die-hard puzzlers probably won’t want outside help anyway.
One of Warp Shift’s greatest strengths is its theming, taking what is at its core a relatively simple 2D puzzler and adding excellent 3D graphics and atmospheric audio to give an impression of depth. A vague backstory is told through short animated cutscenes, punctuating five distinct worlds of fifteen levels. It’s a bit of a stretch for the developers to claim that this mysterious plot means you “never know where your next step will lead you” – we’re pretty sure it will lead to another square-arranging puzzle, just like the last thirty – but the presentation here is excellent and it’s a very decent entry into the puzzle genre. A must for anyone who likes their games equal parts relaxing and taxing.