Yankai’s Peak isn’t a game for the faint of heart. That’s not to say there’s gory action here, it’s basically just a game about pyramids. But they’re pyramids that you need to move around, and that involves an awful lot of thinking.
You’re going to get stuck here, you’re going to be hitting the reset and undo buttons regularly and you’re going to abandon one challenge to move onto another before you rip your hair out. And how you feel about those possibilities will very much define how you feel about the game.
It’s a puzzler that pulls no punches, that refuses to flinch when you’re screaming at it to be easier. If you love testing your grey matter, then you’re going to lap up most of the things that Yankai’s Peak throws at you. If you prefer leaving your head unscratched, then it’s probably worth giving it a miss.
The game takes places on a series of grids. You’re in control of a blue pyramid that you can move along these grids. There are other colored pyramids as well, and you finish a level by placing a pyramid of the right hue in a triangle that matches it.
You swipe to move your blue pyramid around, and you can tap on one of its three corners to tether it to the ground. When you do it’ll pivot around that point rather than moving from grid-space to grid-space. Using these controls you have to push the other pyramids around and into position.
There’s a twist though. While your blue pyramid can’t plummet off the edge of the map into oblivion, the others can. Sometimes you’ll need to sacrifice pyramids to finish a challenge, other times you’ll be mashing the undo button before the stricken shapes have disappeared from view.
And that’s where the challenge comes in. You need to think carefully about each and every move. There’s no time limit, and no move limit, you’re just playing against the grid and your own brain. It’s very much a “now if I do that…” sort of an experience.
If you’re used to puzzlers on the App Store that hold your hand from the word go, or that are designed to require the minimum of thought or skill, then Yankai’s Peak is going to come as a distinct and difficult shock.
There’s no easing you in here, not really, and very little help to call on when things do get difficult. Once you’ve made a mistake you can undo it, but you’re still left with the prospect of trying to figure out how not to make the same mistake again.
That’s where both the joy and the frustration of Yankai’s Peak emanate from. It’s tricksy in ways that some people are going to lap up, and that frustration is going to push them deeper into the experience. But it’s also going to be off-putting for anyone coming in expecting an easy ride.
That’s not to say that the game isn’t worth checking out. Far from it, in fact. This is one of the smartest puzzlers that has hit the App Store in recent years. It’s tough, yes, but it’s rewarding in ways that easier games can never hope to be.
Just be warned when you go in that Yankai’s Peak is the sort of peak that will happily throw you off its summit, and you’ll be better placed to enjoy everything that this slightly mind-bending literal shape-shifter has to offer.