Developer: kunabi brother
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Minimalism is all the rage among games these days, or at least the aesthetic as a conscious design choice is more common. Blek joins the fray, with a unique gameplay mechanic to boot.

Blek-Level_3To play the game, players draw lines. The lines travel along the path that they’re drawn and continue until they hit a black orb, or a wall along the left or right edges of the screen, where they bounce back the other way. The top and bottom edges stretch out into the endless void – why they aren’t reflective as well doesn’t entirely make sense to me, but we’ll roll with it.

The lines can follow complex paths, which is necessary because the layouts of the orbs are frequently complex! Thus, the puzzles are in a sense a challenge of spatial awareness. A line may need to be drawn in such a way that it will hit invisible orbs in its safe area, and continue on to other orbs. This requires knowing the virtual starting point of the orbs and where the finish must be, carried on by the path of the one line.

A little mistake can go a long way toward turning sure success into failure. Some levels even involve timing, not just drawing the perfect path. Still, its 60 levels demand a level of thought that requires understanding how the puzzle wants to be solved, how the layout of the orbs makes sense, and then drawing the perfect path for them.

Blek-Level_5The game uses a very minimalist style – pretty much the only GUI exists in the level select buttons that appear in the bottom corners. The orbs all are very simply drawn, but do they really need to be more complex? Not necessarily. The line, in the way it moves like well-done calligraphy, is gorgeous in motion. Many of the sound effects are just people making noises with their mouths. Okay, perhaps the minimalism has gone too far here.

Blek isn’t an overly-long game; its 60 levels can pose a challenge, but one that can be conquered in several hours for sure. But I was fully engrossed by the game whenever I played it on my iPad – an impressive feat for the debut title from kunabi brother. An iPhone version, which is planned, would be a challenge as the larger screen space does seem to help, particularly given the precision necessary. Still, for iPad owners I definitely recommend Blek.

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