Shape Shift offers a great new twist on the classic matching puzzle formula
Shape Shift is a matching game where you line up like colored objects on a grid to make them disappear and score points. What, you’ve heard this before? Wait! Come back! Sure, you’d be right thinking Shape Shift was kind of like Bejeweled – but you’d be totally wrong to write it off as just another Bejeweled clone. There are some real differences with other similar looking match-3 games, and in ways that makes it stand apart enough to truly make it worth your time.
So let’s start off the similarities, shall we? Yes, the game board looks like something we’ve seen nary a million times already. It’s a grid filled with different colored blocks and you need to group into bundles of at least 4 and more if you can. When you do they score points, vanish, and more fill in from the top of the screen. If you’ve played a casual puzzle game in the past 10 years you’ve seen this setup many many times.
What makes Shape Shift different and worth your time is that it plays very different from those other games. For instance each block has a color and a shape. You’re not stuck swapping blocks with ones adjacent to it. Instead you can swap any two tiles anywhere on the board as long as their shapes match. So a red block with a circle can be swapped with any other tile with a circle in the middle of it.
It’s this subtle but meaningful change that really opens the game up from something like Bejeweled. Since you have more freedom to move pieces around you can always be working to create bigger combos. They still make the game harder by limiting certain colors and shapes to force you to think on your feet, so it’s not a free form game. There’s still some tension there.
Most of the tension is supplied by the bomb tiles that pop up from time to time. They appear out of the blue and have a number on them that ticks down with every move you make. If you don’t get rid of them before the timer runs out, then it’s game over. I bet you think that still sounds pretty easy, and with 1 bomb block you’d be right. But when there are 5,6,7 or more on screen at once, all ticking down, you need to be very careful to make every move count.
If there is any complaint to be had about the gameplay, it’s that I wish there were a little more working against me. The bombs are great, but it would’ve been killer to have more and varied obstacles to overcome. I kind of wish there were some way to kick the difficulty up a bit higher. Then again, I like my puzzle games tough.
On a quick side note, this game isn’t color blind friendly at all. Since the shapes are independent of the colors, you’ll need to be able to differentiate between the colors in order to really play the game. It’s an issue that doesn’t affect all of us, but I figure the people it does effect deserve the heads up.
Those little complaints aside, I really have nothing but high praise for Shape Shift. It’s nearly perfectly implemented on iOS, and offers a compelling match-style puzzle game that manages to distance itself from other stalwarts to become well worth your while. Do yourself a favor and check this one out!