Developer: Graveck
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Strata is the new puzzle game from Graveck, creators of Skee-Ball and 10 Balls 7 Cups, which still has the greatest trailer in iOS gaming historyStrata features no in-game tacos, but it’s still a rather clever and stylish puzzle game.

Strata-03Strata-05Puzzles are comprised of grids with different squares, and each row or column can have a colored ribbon placed over it. The top-most ribbon on a square counts as covering it, with each square needing to be covered in order to complete the level. The challenge naturally comes in with the fact that discovering the proper order in which to place the ribbons is not always apparent. There’s an interplay between the ribbons and how they interact with the colored squares, with placements that sometimes aren’t necessarily obvious!

It’s an elegant and simple game that becomes complex in a good way: through the mingling of separate systems, rather than through obfuscation through complex mechanics. The developers were able to make prototypes on paper and with a magnetic board game version, and the final game is something that could be played physically: it’s literally just a more convenient way to play with the rules.

Strata-Original paper protoThe visual style is minimalist, with no unnecessary distractions from what the game needs to convey its point. The controls are perfectly workable; with the ability to swipe across a column or row to place the ribbon, or to just tap on the little square on the end of it in order to place it, with the different colors selectable at the bottom.

The one thing that I believe detracts from the design is the “Perfect” award for completing without any moves being undone. This essentially just becomes pattern memorization and makes the experience more frustating as I want to go for the perfect award, rather than trying to solve the puzzle. While there’s thankfully a quick restart button, I still feel like it’s not a satisfying addition to the game.

Strata is a fun little puzzle game that does strike that great balance between being simple while remaining compelling over the long-term with its increasingly-difficult puzzles.


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