Dropa is a puzzle game that’s all about placing shapes on a board in order to create and clear lines. Then you do it over and over again in order to earn higher scores. Sounds kind of familiar, right? Well in word form, sure, but actually playing it feels quite different.
What’s different (and interesting) with Dropa is that the board is one big circle with multiple layers, and the lines you’re making are actually rings. You have to line things up by spinning the entire board/ring around, rotating the pieces you’re given, and sliding them up into place. It’s still a simple game in concept, with equally simple visuals that are pleasing enough to look at without getting overwhelming (the way the different colors blend together is pretty cool, too).
In practice it’s a lot less simple. Part of this is because the nature of the shapes and the rates at which they appear (plus your own decisions regarding placement) can be as helpful or problematic as they are in similar puzzle games. Once you get into a groove it can be pretty difficult to stop playing or avoid immediately jumping into a new game once you inevitably run out of spots to place any more shapes. The other part of it is the interface itself.
Maybe it’s just the way my brain works, but it took quite a few games before I was able to truly intuit Dropa’s board layout. You see, even though everything is a circle, it’s still also on a grid (represented by dots). For whatever reason, this gave me a much tougher time than I had expected. I did eventually get used to it, though, so now I can more or less breeze through instead of feeling like I’m just not getting it every time I play.
The controls themselves are also problematic, though, which is more of a shame. Spinning the board sometimes results in it wildly shifting all over the place because you accidentally dragged past the wrong spot. Sometimes trying to drag and place a puzzle piece will cause the board to spin. Sometimes trying to make the board spin will start moving a puzzle piece. I wouldn’t call any of these issues “game breaking,” because there isn’t a timer or anything similar that you need to worry about, but it can get annoying and it happens quite often.
Lastly, it bums me out that there’s no real indication of when you’re close to losing. I think this is partly due to the irregular layout of the board itself, but I’ve played so many other puzzle games where you can easily tell when you’re about to get stuck. Here, the game just sort of ends. I imagine this seems like a somewhat silly thing to have a problem with, but when I’m enjoying myself and setting up lots of rings it can be pretty jarring to go from “I think I can put the next piece here if I put this piece over there” to “well dang.”
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just used to music that speeds up or something more immediately tangible like seeing a wall of blocks almost filling up the screen.
Despite all of my griping, I actually do enjoy Dropa quite a bit. Once you can get used to its somewhat odd layout (and if you can be patient with the sometimes touchy controls) it’s pretty fun. If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, I’d say download it and give it a try – then stick with it until things start to click.