The best puzzle games combine absolute simplicity with an addictive bite that ultimately leaves you wondering how on earth it took so long for someone to come up with the idea. Stickets is one such game, and has a depth of challenge that betrays its basic but elegant presentation.
The gameplay is extremely simple, yet there's a real depth hidden behind its primitive surface. On a very small playing grid, you need to place right-angled tiles that are comprised of multiple colors. Lay them out in such a way that three or more identical colors touch, and you can clear that match from the board, and add a point to your tally.
On paper it couldn't be simpler, but if you want to get a really high score you're going to have to plan ahead very carefully indeed. Run out of space, and you'll be sent back to the menu screen, and so you always have to consider whether to keep building a combo, or free up some essential space on the board.
There are a handful of different modes to add some variety to this core gameplay. In the basic Space mode, you have as much time as you need to cautiously scratch out as high a score as possible. Time mode adds considerably more pressure, however, with each block gradually fading out of existence over time - lose too many of these vanishing squares and you'll have to start again. Finally, Puzzle mode presents a series of bespoke challenges to work your way through.
The audio is as simple as the visuals, and no less wonderful for that. Gentle ambient chimes ring out in response to each tile-set you place on the board, and each cluster of colors that you tap from the screen. As a piece of gentle ambient gaming, Stickets is going to keep you busy for far longer than you might expect given the basic proposition.
Without a handful of modes to keep you coming back for more, Stickets would likely have remained a charming but limited curio on the App Store - one you kill a few minutes with, but never really find yourself absorbed with fully. As a collection of surprisingly strategic challenges though, this is one game that deserves a place on every mobile puzzle gamer's phone.
What's Hot:Simple yet utterly compelling, Stickets is a must-have for any fan of mobile puzzle games.
What's Not:It's very hard to unlock the final game mode.