App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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As far as I'm concerned there are few things more dangerous than a giant grid with some numbers in it. As they did for a lot of us, Sudoku puzzles took over my coffee-break existence several years ago and I've never really recovered. Even now in my nightmares I'm being chased around a never-ending line of squares by giant man-eating numbers.
Now threatening to take over my night terrors is a game that looks like something between Sudoku and new-PC-staple Minesweeper, but ends up like a more mathematical, more challenging join-the-dots puzzle: PathPix. Like Sudoku, each puzzle starts with a giant grid with some numbers filled in. The idea, though, is not to fill the remaining squares with numbers - this is where the join-the-dots thing comes in. Each number must be connected by a path to a matching number - 2 to a 2, 3 to a 3 - and the number of squares in the path must be the same as the number. So the path between a 4-square and another 4-square should be made up of four squares. The path can twist and turn, and often has to because every puzzle has a specific solution. This I found out when I completed first puzzle, and the colours assigned to each number suddenly filled in the paths to reveal a bitty image of a squirrel. Hence the name PathPix - now you get it.
In fact each bitty picture also comes with a famous quote relating to it, a quirky reward for a quirky twist on the old numbers-in-grids shtick. What's cool about PathPix is that it wouldn't work on paper, and that it only really works with a touch screen. First, dragging the snaking path from number to number is easy even on the iPhone's small screen. Secondly, as I realized as the numbers got bigger and working out how the increasingly convoluted paths should work around each other got harder, being able to erase my mistakes with a simple tap was fundamental. While at times it can feel a bit more like work than puzzle-solving - a bit like the almost redundant tail-end of a Sudoku - PathPix is a strong, system-appropriate puzzle game that will score well and long just on its uniqueness and quirkiness.
And it's a good thing it scores long because with 169 different puzzles to solve, the larger ones taking as long as 20 minutes, there's absolutely oodles of content in PathPix. And, amazingly, the developer seems keen to keep adding puzzles to the mix. Even though it doesn't come in at the lowest price tier, for sheer minutes-per-cent PathPix is incredible value for money. Don't say you weren't warned when you lose the next 80 coffee breaks of your life to connecting numbers, making coloured lines, and revealing bitty pictures and oddball quotes. But hey, at least we can mourn those lost hours together over a mocha or 80.