Developer: Beavl
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

My mother was a tailor; she sewed my new blue jeans. My father was a gambling man down in New Orleans. Myself, though? Never got into rolling the bones. I don’t even like to play the lottery. Why throw away good money on a game I’ll never win? I can spend that couple of bucks on a cup of tea that I know will go down nicely.

And yet, despite my aversion to gambling, I sank considerable time into Beavl’s Faif. This match-three/battle hybrid presents an interesting idea that’s extremely easy to latch onto, and carries a compelling touch of danger.

Each game of Faif takes place on a five-by-six grid peppered with symbols: Skulls, swords, gems, and hearts. When the player’s turn comes up, they select five adjacent tiles by tapping or dragging. But unlike a typical match-three game, these tiles don’t disappear when they’re selected. Instead, a roulette fires up, and rewards or consequences are doled out according to what tile is highlighted when the roulette is done.

faif_04faif_05If a skull lights up, the player loses a hit point. If a gem is selected, the player receives a gem they can spend on power-ups in the in-game store. If the roulette lands on a heart, the player receives a hit point. And if a sword lights up, the player’s opponent loses hit points.

Here’s the thing: It’s not like the player can select five swords and wail on their opponent. A sword will only do damage equal to the amount of skulls the player selects alongside the weapon. So a selection that includes one sword and four skulls can do a whopping four hit points of damage to the opponent – but only if the roulette lands on the sword. If it lands on a skull, it’s the player that gets hurt.

Faif carries an undeniable “one more time” quality that drives players to beat their winning streaks. There are even “boss battles” that demand gutsy moves for swift victory, like the aforementioned “one sword four skulls” gambit. That said, it would be nice to go up against some live opponents. Faif‘s roster consists only of baddies driven by AI – some of whom have very high hit points and play defensively, causing matches to drag on for way too long.

Faif is still worth sinking some time into, particularly for fans of match-three games. Put away the candy and bring out the swords.

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