A good shock to the system, but has a few short circuits.

While the name might initially evoke thoughts of store-brand knock-off sodas, Dr. Jolt on iOS is a puzzle game (don’t be fooled by the “adventure” part on the game’s iTunes page) which features a clever premise, but a slightly-flawed execution.

The eponymous doctor plays little role but to offer you some tips on how to play when you get started. By touching the screen, you can emit an electric current capable of lighting up nearby light bulbs (kids, don’t try this at home). That said, your goal is to light up all the light bulbs in each stage with a single touch, and — if possible — trigger the nearby stars to earn extra coins.

Things become more sophisticated as you go, as new aids and obstacles are implemented. For instance, relays can extend the reach of your electricity, and some can even be moved around the board, while others remain bolted into place. Some stages feature fences which prohibit movement of the relays past their borders while electricity can still flow through, while others prevent anything from passing through.

There is a lot of trial and error involved in figuring out the best placement of relays, particularly as you are really not given any idea of their range beyond watching them in action. Even then, they either work or they don’t, so it’s tough to get an accurate bead on how far they reach, leading to a lot of slight movements around the board until everything synchs up.

Dr. Jolt

Unfortunately, this trial and error is also where things begin to fall apart slightly. During your play session, you have a consistent energy gauge which you draw from as you attempt to light up everything in the circuit, and you must hold your finger down longer for it to flow as far as it can, draining more energy. Regretfully, we found that many taps which should not have used energy — our attempts to merely reposition the relays — would instead accidentally register as an “electric touch,” further draining our meter without meaning to.

This might not be a problem, except as noted before, the gauge is consistent throughout your whole session — no refills between stages or anything, what you have is all you’ve got to get as far as you can. Once it’s drained, you can either put the game away for a while to recharge, or use one of a limited stock of batteries to restore it.

Dr. Jolt

Naturally, this is where the coins you earn come in. You can purchase the batteries with coins, and buy coins with real money through in-app purchases if you haven’t earned enough. You can also purchase upgrades to make things more efficient, but it all comes down to a need to either put the game away or spend money to progress, and that might not even be as much of an issue if not for the need to constantly expend energy– inadvertently or deliberately– just to test things out. Take it from us: There’s nothing like running out of energy right in the middle of positioning relays to take you out of the moment.

The end result is that Dr. Jolt is a simple, clever, and fun game which is basically hindered somewhat by its quirks and intricacies. It’s all fun and games until the lights go out.