I still remember the fanatical following Bejeweled had when it first released for web browsers back in 2001. Every time you got a new high score, you took a screenshot and emailed it to all the friends whom you knew were playing the game — and you dreaded that email in return where someone has bettered your score.
That classic, addictive game has since been brought to the mobile and spawned countless knock-offs. So why would Dots be any different? Developer Betaworks (or PlayDot) is not a game dev firm and is most famous for buying Digg recently. And it actually made the game as a “happy accident” when one of its staffers experimenting with interactive design ended up creating the game.
Yet Dots — first released on iOS earlier this year — has a lot of refinement and has obviously seen plenty of care from its makers. It’s hard not to fall in love with this game.
There is a simplicity to Dots, born out of its focus on minimalism, that makes you want to keep playing the game over and over. The home screen is sparse; apart from the tiny Menu button at the bottom, it just lets you choose among the two game modes — Timed or Moves — and hit the ‘Play Now’ button.
The game starts with a 6×6 grid of multi-coloured dots on a white background. There are five colours to the dots, and in the app settings, you can even choose the colour options.
The task at hand is simple: using straight lines (no diagonals), connect two or more dots of the same colour to eliminate them from the grid. The Timed puts a 60-second time limit and gives you unlimited movs, while the Moves mode restricts you to 30 moves with unlimited time. It’s good to start off with the Moves mode to get a hang of the game, but you’ll soon want to switch to the Timed mode to rack up better high scores, reflected at the top of the screen.
In case you hit a point where there are no dots of the same colour next to each other, the game will drop an entire line off the grid and give you more options.
Unlike Bejeweled, where creating a chain of more than three got you extra points, there’s no such advantage in Dots, so don’t be afraid to make smaller chains.
There’s a fluidity to the design of Dots of that makes you want to keep playing it. And the developers have done a good job with the sound effects too. Each dot you tap in a chain emits a beep in an ascending pitch; it’s really quite lovely.
Each dot you eliminate is added to your own collection of dots, so it’s in your best interest to get those high scores. Besides, high scores and continuing to play the game also earn you funky trophies — man, the art and design of this game is so cool.
These collected dots act as a currency between levels. There are three power-ups you can buy with the dots: Time Stops (stops the clock for 5 seconds), Shrinkers (shrink a dot off the board) and Expanders (remove all dots of one colour).
Throw In Some Friendly Competition
Remember how I was talking about that impetuous desire to email a friend about the high score you just racked up? Dots leverages upon social media to make that happen. Connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to Dots and it’ll show you the high scores of all your friends playing the game, so you can engage in a little friendly competition.
Of course, if your friends aren’t competition for you any more, you can start competing with the Global Top Scorers. You can also keep a track of your own best scores in either game mode.
The game also offers a single-device, turn-by-turn multiplayer mode — great to keep the kids occupied!
Keep It Casual
If you have been looking for an addictive, casual game that’s great for a quick round or two when you’re waiting for your colleague to finish a call or even that guilty pleasure of bathroom gaming, Dots is the answer.
Not only is it wonderful to come back to at any time, it’s initially also entertaining enough to play repeatedly for a long time — although I’m sure this is a phenomenon that will wear off with time.