For years we’ve been playing memory games like the venerable Simon, repeating back patterns of lights and sounds. Distill all that, make it minimal brushstrokes and put in on an iPhone or iPod Touch, and you’ve got White Lines.
A simple concept, White Lines literally paints white lines against a black background in a specific order and direction. All you have to do is repeat the pattern by tracing it with your finger. Keep doing this to get a high score. If you make a mistake, the game warns you and re-draws the pattern. If you miss a second time on the same pattern, it’s game over.
There are five difficulty levels ranging from easy (only two lines) to beyond difficult (six lines!). Your high scores are saved locally, and if you have an OpenFeint account you can access a worldwide leaderboard.
The aesthetic of White Lines is both simple and elegant. The brushstroke graphics of the… ahem, white lines makes them easy to see their direction as well as when they are copied by your hand. The lines can be drawn from any point to any other point, and can change directions wildly. The audio matches the clean visuals, consisting of swooshes for the brushstrokes, a gentle chime to indicate a correct reproduction, and a simple buzzer if you’re wrong. The in-game background music defaults to “off” so make sure to turn it on in order to hear a nice, pulsing techno groove. While it’s not the kind of tune that will stick in your head, it does add to the trance-like effect playing White Lines has.
The simplistic gameplay of White Lines definitely lends itself to an “arcade” feel, where a high score achieved through a single-focus goal can be insanely addictive. It’s also very pick-up-and-play, which is a big plus for a game without any frills.
However, the execution is a little spotty. For the most part White Lines is pretty accurate in detecting your finger movements, and is pretty forgiving for the most part. Lines don’t always have to be 100% accurate, but pretty darn close. Sometimes, though, the game would penalize me within moments of starting to draw the line, in spite of the fact that I was absolutely sure of the starting point and direction. It seems to be a function of timing; you can’t start re-tracing the lines until the very last line drawn has faded.
But most mysteriously, White Lines had a game-crashing bug that froze the game and wouldn’t let me re-start, even after exiting to the iPhone menu and re-launching. It somehow sorted itself out after doing other things and returning to it – and I couldn’t repeat it – but it is troubling.
White Lines is a simple, addictive game that, for the most part, delivers a fun quick-play brain teaser. Its monochrome design is pretty unique, and there’s definitely enough challenge and addiction-factor for long-term enjoyment. It’s just too bad that the game paints a little outside the lines at times.