Developer: Semi Secret Software
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

I first saw Hundreds at GDC 2012 when Rob LeFebvre and I met with Adam Saltsman of Semi Secret Software . I was expecting to hear more about The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire, but for various reasons, most of our time was spent playing and learning about this other game he had, an adaptation of Greg Wohlwend’s Flash title, brought to iOS in collaboration with Semi Secret. I remember not having much to say, because I was just so engrossed in what Hundreds was doing, experiencing its simple complexity, and the way that it started to reveal itself to be something deeper than just a game about making circles bigger. I wanted more of it.

Well, it’s about ten months later, and Hundreds is finally out. And it’s as amazing as I found it back when I played an early version of it.

The basic goal of each level is simple: get all the circles to add up to 100. Tapping and holding on a circle (multitouch supported) causes its number to increase. If it comes in contact with another object while it’s being touched, then the level must be restarted. In an act of mercy, this happens automatically. Things get more complex from there.

But where the beauty of Hundreds comes in is in the way that its levels are designed to teach the player the game without ever actually needing a tutorial or written instructions. Occasionally, as the levels get more complex, there are simpler ones that otherwise introduce new elements. These are designed with the express purpose of teaching the player how they work, and then those lessons are applied throughout the rest of the game. It’s a brilliant tactic, as it encourages learning through experimentation. I hate written tutorials: they usually throw too much information at the player all at once, and letting people figure out by actually playing and experimenting with what does and does not work is the far superior way to do things.

Hundreds uses a very minimalist graphical and sound design: everything is represented in basic flat shapes, with grayscale colors and a smattering of red throughout. The soundtrack is mostly one ambient track that tends to blend in to the background, and round out the sterile universe the visuals create. The game recommends wearing headphones; I find that they help to let the game enter my brain, blocking out everything but the game.

This game is truly fascinating to me: it does so much in its minimalism, comfortable to let the player learn and figure out what it offers. It’s a triumph of game design. Play this.

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