Developer: Canned Bananas
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Lock ‘n’ Roll is an excellent dice game that blends a good dose of skill and strategy with chance. It’s easy to pick up and play, devilishly addicting, and infinitely more complex than the simple rules page would have you believe. While the novelty of some games fades over time, Lock ‘n’ Roll is a gem. Once you nail basic strategy, a game can last for days if you want, but it remains just as absorbing as ever.

The ad banner is absent in the Pro version, but this is the general layout of the board.

The ad banner is absent in the Pro version, but this is the general layout of the board.

The game board is a box lined with a four-by-four grid, for a total of sixteen smaller boxes. Each turn, you “roll” four random dice, which you have to place on the board. (If there are fewer than four spaces, you’re only given enough to cover the board.) Each die has one of four colors and a random number (one through four). Points are earned by creating combinations of dice—make a set that falls into a row, column, diagonal, 2×2 square, or the four corners, and you’ll score based on the probability of that combination. The most difficult of combinations “clear.” When a combination clears, your points are doled out, and the dice involved vanish from the board. There are also Joker dice, which act like wild cards and are earned as you progress. Games last long enough to be involved and interesting, without going on forever–unless, of course, you’re just that amazing at strategy.

Blundering through the game is easy enough, but figuring out the quirks and strategies is part of what makes Lock ‘n’ Roll so engaging. Once you learn the basic rules (outlined on an in-game reference sheet), the challenge of constantly trying to figure out the best possible placement keeps you on your toes. The balance of luck and skill means that there’s always that incentive to try just one more time, and it’s a truly fun game.

The sound effects are perfectly fine (you can turn them off, if you’d like), but they sound somewhat out of place as there’s no background music. On the other hand, Lock ‘n’ Roll lets you listen to your own tracks, so it’s not such a big deal. Disregarding the lack of sound, Lock ‘n’ Roll is a really polished app, with plenty of attention to detail. The automatic game saves are a huge boon, the newly added reset button is handy, and the global high score lists—compounded hourly, daily, and weekly in addition to the all-time best—are a nice feature, too.

My only complaint is the lack of an in-game tutorial. While the reference sheet is handy, it doesn’t clearly define which layouts of four dice count towards combinations—for example, I didn’t initially realize that a 2×2 square of dice could form a combination. It’s a minor problem, as trial-and-error is a decent way to sink into the game, but a clearer rule list might be a good addition for future updates. As it stands, I figured out most of the other game mechanics and strategies on my own.

Overall, Lock ‘n’ Roll is an original, strategy-oriented dice game with near-flawless execution. Anyone who enjoys logic-centric puzzles will almost surely fall in love with it; even if you’re not a puzzle buff, Lock ‘n’ Roll is sure to provide some solid entertainment. The ad-wrapped version is available for free; the Pro version (same features, but with promises of more updates) is still a great deal at $2.99.

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