Android / iOS / PC
Dev: Thomas Bowker
Gulp. We’re about to enter a difficult and disturbing world; one where many people step tentatively, get burned and then scurry back to the safety of their free-to-play security blanket.
The world of indie-developed paid-for mobile gaming.
You might be entirely comfortable with paying for random apps on your phone. Hell, maybe you’ve got money to throw around like so much wedding confetti, but I am always reticent to pay for games on my mobile devices. It’s pretty much thanks to Steam and Humble Bundle et al, who are constantly telling me I can have 2012’s blockbuster game I missed out on for £3.49. Kind of makes it difficult to justify spending a similar amount on some indie title that’s probably:
a) going to suck
b) only going to be played whilst I’m on the toilet
c) will probably control like ass and make me wish I’d just read the shampoo bottle instead
So when a game comes to my attention that doesn’t hit any of those categories it’s probably worth a second look, huh?
LYNE is one of those deceptively-simple-but-hard-as-balls games that cause great emotional tidal waves when playing. The slow, simmering creep of frustration followed by the joyful release of success – then back again. Your job is quite straightforward; simply join together shapes of the same colour using a line that you draw with your finger. The shapes are laid out on an easy to see grid and interspersed with octagonal intersections that need to be criss-crossed with lines a certain number of times to complete the level.
Sounds a lot more complicated than it is in practice.
Successfully join all those squares and triangles together and you are rewarded with all the pieces turning white, disappearing and being replaced with another puzzle in the set.
LYNE’s puzzle sets contain 25 challenges in each and there are plenty of brain-teasers to keep you going – additionally there are daily challenges to puzzle through if you find yourself stuck on your current set.
The line drawing is satisfying and accurate but thankfully there is no punishment for drawing an incorrect line – you simply tap on the last shape you were happy with and start drawing again. The graphical assets are simplistic but wonderfully functional, you never become confused as all the lines and shapes are colour coded in clear, albeit soft, tones.
Those soft tones are replicated in the wonderful sound design of the game which provides a very placid backdrop to play the game against. It reminds me very much of the Hans Zimmer soundtrack to True Romance, which I’ve always considered to be beautiful. Apparently, the instrument used to play that song is called a Symphonic Marimba – I have no idea if it’s the same thing that made the in-game sounds but they certainly have the same ‘feel’.
Whether or not you’ll get much enjoyment from LYNE depends upon how much you enjoy puzzle games and how far you can cope with a little frustration when they get tough. What I can say without fear of subjectivity however is that LYNE definitely represents considered and well-crafted design in a video game. You feel when playing it that you are engaging with a polished piece of software that merits the small amount of money you paid to play it.
The final, and perhaps most overlooked pleasure that LYNE provides is something that is pointed out in some of the promotional material almost as a throwaway line – it reads:
Deceptively simple – connect the shapes – fill the board – lose yourself… in LYNE
I think that concept of losing yourself is quite an interesting one. I think that LYNE must stimulate some very particular part of the brain whilst you play it and, whilst these are all geared towards solving the puzzle, the rest of my brain is slowly ticking away at other things. I can’t claim any great revelatory notions have come as result of playing the game but it certainly leaves me feeling rested if I don’t allow myself to get too bogged down with trying to beat a level that’s giving me trouble.
Like a lot of problems in life, give it a bit of time and bit of space the solution tends to present itself without too much fuss in the end.
LYNE is available now in most good app stores for £1.60