It’s funny how much money some companies will spend making complex video games when so often, simplicity is best. Then again, making something simple that’s also sophisticated and entertaining isn’t exactly easy. Zedarus Games’ new number-based search game Numerity is a prime example of sophisticated minimalism—part math drill and part hidden object game, it spins an amazing amount of fun from some very basic elements.
The main idea in Numerity is to find specific numbers hidden within a complex jumble of them. To begin with, the game assigns these to you and you simply locate and tap them. Tapping makes every instance of the number, wherever it’s located within the numerical medley, appear highlighted in black. You continue doing this as an on-screen counter tracks your progress all the way to 100%, and then you watch in delight as the camera moves back and reveals the image you’ve been building. It’s kind of ridiculous how satisfying that is, reminiscent in a way to finally seeing the image appear in those infuriating stereogram things.
Anyway, at first the images are of famous faces like Audrey Hepburn and John Lennon; then they move on to animals, famous landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower), lifestyle imagery, and gadgets. Each category has ten levels (that’s fifty levels total) and the game changes and becomes more difficult from one category to the next. Where at first you’re merely given numbers, you’re then asked to do simple math problems to arrive at them before being able to search. Before you math-o-phobes out there run away screaming, the problems here are no harder than 29 + 10, 91-17 or 3 x 5, a setup that’s accessible to players of basically all ages.
Each level of Numerity has a timer, but rather than pressuring you by starting with a set chunk of time and then running out, it’s there merely to track how quickly you can complete the level. You can completely ignore the timer if you want to, and let the muted graphics and minimal, soothing music make the activity into a kind of restful meditation. While on paper, this might all sound too simple to make for a good game, but it’s really what makes Numerity so ingenious. Without the bells and whistles, it’s more entertaining than the majority of things you’ll find on any given day in the iTunes App Store.
What’s coolest about it though, beyond its entertainment value, is that playing it uses both sides of your brain. As your left brain chugs away finding sums, products, and differences, your right brain gets a workout from locating hidden numbers; the two are constantly changing places. This process becomes even more involved as the game’s difficulty increases. Numerity does this with real finesse, by adding subtle changes such as hiding tiny, single numbers, slowly rotating the game board, and fogging the edges of the screen, thus forcing you to drag the board back and forth.
Although the trend these days is free-to-play, Numerity currently goes for $.99 cents in the App Store. It’s more than worth it, and right now during Zedarus’s launch sale, you can get it for only half of that. Although it can be played alone, it can also be played as a social game and has all the necessary social trappings: Facebook/Twitter sharing, Leaderboards, friend challenges, and microtransactions. The latter consist of coins you can buy to spend on hints and these go for a very reasonable $.99 cents per 100, up to $2.99 per 1,000 (each hint costs 10 coins).
Numerity is a fantastic game. The only negative thing that can be said about it is that fifty levels just aren’t enough. Zedarus Games apparently has more levels in the works though, and considering all the possibilities their formula gives them, Numerity could theoretically go on forever. Whenever it is, I’ll be waiting—my cerebral hemispheres could use another good workout.