Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Villain, developers of the first-person shooter Archetype, are back with a new game that's not quite what would be expected: a match-3 puzzle game. Matchlings plays similar to Bejeweled, where the goal is to match three pieces in a row by swapping two adjacent pieces. There are three modes, all based on completing levels by clearing a certain amount of pieces without failing: Dash, where the goal is to survive levels without the timer running out; Snare, where trying to not run out of matches to make is the goal; and finally, Endless, where the game lasts as long as the player wishes to keep playing. The player earns stars as they play; by double-tapping on a piece, special abilities can be used to help get rid of pieces, and each piece has a different special ability.
The graphics in Matchlings are really well-done, with each character displaying a variety of animations while idle, with special animations when their special moves are activated. The graphics are all very detailed, with Retina Display support. This is a game that casual players will likely enjoy; the experience is very familiar, the character designs are meant to be appealing, and there's Game Center support. There's a reason why the match-3 mechanic is still so popular: it's because it is simple and works well.
The problem with Matchlings? Originality, or lack thereof. The mechanics are pretty much identical to Bejeweled or any other gem-swapping game released in the last decade, and the only real element with originality is the power-up system, and it is the kind of element that other games have implemented in their own ways. The main game mode presents little challenge at all, as I easily got to level 24 on the first playthrough, before intentionally losing in order to check out the other game modes. It's partially familiarity with the match-3 genre, but it also helps that the game just seems easy to play, as the level structure means that the timer essentially resets on levels right as time starts to become a factor. The game just doesn't feel like a challenge.
Matchlings just commits the sin of being the same as other games that have come before it. For those who like match-3 games and want something familiar, Matchlings isn't a bad choice. However, for those sick of the great number of match-3 games that are available on the App Store, Matchlings might not be worth pursuing.