Developer: Cipher Prime
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Cipher Prime first landed on the App Store with Pulse: Volume One, a quality rhythm game whose entrancing mechanics and minimalist aesthetics drew players into a highly enjoyable state of serenity. With their newest release Fractal: Make Blooms Not War, a port of a PC/Mac game, they have applied those same principles to a puzzle game and the trippy results are once again fantastic.
Let it be known that playing Fractal: Make Blooms Not War is noticeably easier than trying to describe it. Hexagonal tiles are laid across a grid and tapping the spaces between them causes them to push out and multiply. Once enough tiles of the same color are joined together to form one or more larger hexagons they bloom and are erased from the board. Blooms increase the score and a high enough score clears the board.
It’s a novel concept, although occasionally too reliant on sheer luck, that the game gets a surprising amount of mileage out of. Outside of the 30-level campaign where boards must be cleared in a limited number of pushes, there’s the fiendishly clever puzzle mode that tasks players with setting up specific chain reactions as well as the arcade mode that gives players an infinite number of pushes to clear as many boards as possible before time runs out. It’s not immediately apparent how to succeed in this game, and the occasionally fidgety touch controls don’t always help, but these different modes do a great job at teaching players how to find their groove.
Combine that with a slick visual style and ambient music in line with the developer’s pedigree. For example, whenever certain power-ups or board-clearing blooms take effect, the screen zooms in and the music warps, emphasizing the point in a very satisfying, Peggle-like, way. It’s a shame though that there only seems to be one song, albeit on that becomes more layered as sessions progress. At least there are leaderboards and support for OpenFeint and Game Center.
The one thing all great puzzle games share is the ability to induce players into a state where they stop thinking and are just playing. Fractal: Make Blooms Not War is one of those games and anyone looking for a cheap yet high-quality iPad puzzle game should definitely give it a look.