Merged! is one of those mobile puzzle games that can sit comfortably with other favorites like Threes! and Drop7. It looks sharp enough, and it certainly plays well enough. The problem I keep running into, however, is that it kind of feels a bit too similar to some of those previously mentioned favorites. Itâ€™s definitely its own thing – itâ€™s not a â€śtoo close for comfort” homage or anything like that – but it does feel like something Iâ€™ve played before.
Thatâ€™s mostly a compliment, really. Merged! has all the hallmarks of an easy to learn, easy to play, and easy to get sucked into handheld puzzler. It makes good use of a simple mechanic where you have to line up three or more of a set of matching numbers (also distinguished by different colors). Three or more 1s combine to create a 2, three or more 2s fuse into a 3, and so on. It all culminates in 6s becoming an â€śMâ€ť tile, and three of those together will clear out a 3×3 section of the grid with a colorful pulse/explosion.
The placement of these numbers is what makes Merged! difficult to master. Sometimes youâ€™ll get a single number tile to place, but most of the time youâ€™ll have a pair to deal with. These pairs can be rotated before you put them down, but youâ€™ll still want to think carefully. When combined, a set will merge to form the new tile wherever that last piece was placed – which is super important to remember when trying to influence your combo opportunities. Itâ€™s also important for not clogging the board until you have no moves left, thus ending your game. It makes for a strategy thatâ€™s pretty simple to work around but can be pleasingly tricky to really use to your advantage — especially when space becomes limited and ever move counts.
Despite its familiar feeling, Merged! is still quite fun in its own quiet way. At least for a while. I eventually started to get a little tired of what is essentially putting the same puzzle together over and over, and as much as I enjoy the idea of earning coins and a high score, it wasnâ€™t enough to keep me excited about what I was doing. An extra mode (a time trial, survival, etc) could definitely help with the repetitious feeling.
A more nitpicky issue I had was with the ads. Merged! is free, so of course there are ads, and thatâ€™s fine — but they pop up after every single game, and the ones I keep encountering have those obnoxious timers on them so I have to wait an arbitrary amount of time before I can start another round. Iâ€™m not opposed to their inclusion, but their frequency and duration really get in the way of the fun sometimes. Thankfully,Â thereâ€™s an option to remove them for $1.99.
Merged! is a sharp, colorful-looking puzzler. Thatâ€™s pretty much the best way I can sum it up. Itâ€™s fun to a point, looks nice, and plays well, but at the same time itâ€™s not exactly remarkable. Itâ€™s kind of like a â€śsafeâ€ť high-end mobile puzzle game, which isnâ€™t a bad thing. Itâ€™s just not the greatest thing, either.