Saturday, November 22, 2014

TwoDots Review

Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks. Please see this post at https://medium.com/@ianrbuck/twodots-review-1ba07d97fa9d#.fo6m6nwa5

TwoDots takes the game mechanics of its predecessor and applies them to a puzzle game instead of an arcade game. Instead of playing on a randomized field and trying to get a high score, TwoDots features multiple levels with set goals to accomplish. There are several different themed chapters, each of which introduces a new type of goal: in the sea chapter you have to drop anchor dots to the bottom of the grid, in the snow chapter you have to break ice blocks, etc. After introducing the new mechanic, many levels combine multiple different mechanics to make things interesting.
It is an incredibly cutesy game, with a catchy tune that didn't get old for me, and satisfying sound effects to accompany each action. As you scroll through the overworld, objects move in response. Think about your favorite example of parallax scrolling and you will understand how great it feels.

Each level of course gives you a rating on how well you completed it. This score, as well as how many levels you have completed, can be compared to your friends. It uses Facebook, which is nice because I do not think that any of my Android friends have played yet. On the other hand, now I am comparing my score to people who I have not talked to in ages (one of them went to elementary school with me, still not sure why we are friends on Facebook).

Up until now, everything has been sunshine and roses. Unfortunately, they drop the ball in a way that is very important to me. The game is monetized through in-game power ups. For example, you have five lives, losing one whenever you fail a level. They regenerate one every 20 minutes or you can pay a little money now to keep playing. When you fail a level, they will offer you five more moves and an item that will solve all your problems for only a dollar!
I absolutely refuse to beat a puzzle game by paying money, but I cannot be sure that the people on my friends list have the same philosophy as I. So now I am left wondering what is the point? I can succeed at this game "honorably," but how can I know that anyone else has? For that matter, how does anyone know that I did? As a result every time I play I can't help but hate myself a little.

A side effect of this is that I have now realized that the original Dots suffered the same problem, though it was not quite as obvious. Over time it became more difficult to earn power ups solely through playing, and if you wanted to beat your friends at it those power ups were crucial. Both games are pay-to-win, and I am done with them.