Developer: Chaotic Box
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

dEXTRIS is not related to Tetris, so the “tris” part of the name doesn’t make much sense. But it is a game of dexterity that will cause the spewing of a multitude of profanities – in a good way.

dEXTRIS-7dEXTRIS-5Players use their two thumbs to navigate two blocks around hazards. Tapping and holding on the left or right moves both blocks that direction, holding both sides splits the two blocks apart, and doing nothing leaves them in the center. This neutral state is mentioned specifically because some of the hazards require being in that neutral state. Some of the challenge comes from the fact that the blocks move quickly, but not instantaneously, and the hazards are diagonal: One must act about a split-second ahead of what’s coming at all times.

Hazards are split into sets of 10, with the separation serving as a brief respite, but also as a way for the game to speed up. It only gets harder. Be fully alert and undistracted while playing dEXTRIS because any delayed reaction will cause death. It’s a bit more of a tactical dance versus the pure survival reaction of other flaplike challenging arcade games, and that’s what makes it so interesting to me: it’s definitely part of this movement for simpler games but still tries to do something different with how it plays. Even going neutral to avoid some hazards, while a similar element to Zombie Gunship Arcade‘s not-flapping to not kill humans, feels like a thoughtful action, but it’s also a bit challenging mentally because it doesn’t feel right at first. But once acclimated to, it makes sense.

dEXTRIS-3dEXTRIS-2Because the game feels so deliberately effective with its movements, that makes for a great-playing game that I’ve enjoyed trying to come back to again and again. The visuals are stylish yet minimal. The glowing effects do well to spice up what’s basically just a couple of blocks moving around blade-like structures. The game is free with ads, though early on the ad supply has been limited: even when they have appeared they’re not so annoying. It’s mostly just the occasional banner and interstitial, but I’d still like a way to pay to remove them.

dEXTRIS is just a solidly fun game worth coming back to. It’s part of this renaissance of free games that are showing that simpler is sometimes better, and that deep fun can be had from simple ideas, which is something that mobile gaming had forgotten along the way.

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