Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Messing around with particles in real life isn't recommended – not unless the scientist involved wants to open up the door for brain-sucking aliens that normally exist in parallel dimensions. Messing around with particles in video games, however, is A-OK. At least the thin veil between ourselves and sanity-eroding horrors can't be ripped asunder by virtual shenanigans.
iON Bond by Smiling Bag is a puzzle game that encourages players to mess around with particles while it simultaneously serves up a science lesson. Players draw lines between particles with the intent of getting same-colored molecules to collide and disappear. It's not easy, though. Nature is a stubborn mother.
See, particles need to be oppositely-charged (positive and negative) in order for them to attract. Getting a positive and negative particle to meet and disappear usually isn't a big problem, even though there are hazards like dark matter to watch out for. But things get much harder by the time players are expected to find ways for similarly-charged particles to collide. Drawing a line between two negative molecules, for instance, causes them to fly in opposite directions more quickly than two ex-lovers accidentally meeting in the grocery store. Players must learn how to harness the particles' momentum so that two (or more) bearing the same charge will engage in a kind of destructive dance. To make things even more complicated, players need to use floating particles to collect neutrinos - silver dots that open up more chapters. Levels can be skipped over, but it doesn't do a lot of good to run away from science: No neutrinos, no new levels.
All the physics-related dancing as well as the necessary collection of neutrinos makes iON Bond kind of frustrating at times. It pays to put the game down from time to time when things get sticky. Returning to it makes it easy to appreciate its unique premise and attractive visuals (when particles collide, they leave behind pretty tendrils of soft color).
Despite inducing the occasional headache, iON Bond is a smart puzzle game coupled with a bit of science learnin'. Go ahead and try messing with the natural order of things for a while. Nothing will go wrong. Honest.