Pokaboo Review: Spirited Sokoban

By Rob Rich |
The Good

A very clean and colorful visual style

Some seriously brain-bending puzzles

The Bad

Puzzles might be a touch too brain-bending at times

Not much point to earning stars

Sokoban puzzles were pretty much the first mobile games I’d ever played. And despite their simplicity, I did actually have fun with them. I dunno, I just like shifting block puzzles. It appeals to my 3D-minded nature, I guess.

These types of brain teasers won’t be going away any time soon, and have in fact been used to make a lot of other puzzle games in the intervening years. Hence a game like Pokaboo, which is an extremely colorful and sharp-looking rendition of what could arguably be considered the same old box pusher. With ghosts.


The entire point of each of Pokaboo’s puzzles is to nudge colored dots along until all the matching colors are touching – at which point the whole mass will disappear. Once all of the colored dots are gone you can move on, and clearing a level within a set number of steps earns you stars that can be saved up to unlock new level sets early. Or you could just play the game and unlock the new levels normally. It kinda makes the star system pointless, really. Though I suppose there is something to be said for looking at the level select screen and seeing a bunch of starred levels.

Not having to necessarily push each dot into a specific location leaves things much more open-ended than the average sokoban puzzle, but being able to push and move from one end of the level to the other (PAC-MAN style) – which is presumably possible because your character is a ghost – is what makes the biggest difference. Being able to “jump” from the far-right to the far-left side of the screen (or top to bottom, left to right, etc) gives you many more options when it comes to shuffling things around. It also makes things a lot more complicated, because you can accidentally nudge things out of place or make it extremely difficult to reach a specific dot without dismantling everything else.

I absolutely appreciate the way in which Pokaboo adds new elements to the classic sokoban formula, and it creates some pretty wild brain teasers, but things have a tendency to get too complicated too fast. That’s not to say that you’ll get stuck, because so long as you simply finish a level you’re golden, but it makes hitting target move counts extremely frustrating most of the time. Not that the stars you’d earn are all that important, of course, but it’s bound to drive completionists up the wall a bit. Especially when the game starts introducing colorless pieces that only exist to get in the way and make matching-up the right dots more challenging.

So long as you’re not hung up on the idea of missing a perfect score here and there (or if you’re really patient), there’s quite a bit to enjoy in Pokaboo. Whether or not you can finish the tougher puzzles in the right number of moves, it’s always satisfying to clear them. Plus it’s pretty to look at while you’re doing it.

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