Puzzle games fall into two basic categories. First, there are casual puzzle games, which are designed to relax you and make you feel good, even though you’re not doing much. Then there are hardcore puzzle games, which are designed to bring you about a hair’s breadth away from turning your iPhone into a missile weapon’”but produce a real sense of accomplishment when you beat them. BloXoR is a card-carrying member of the latter variety; if you buy it, you should be prepared for a real test of your physical and mental resources, not a walk in the park. And if that sounds like fun, this game has a lot to offer you.
BloXoR starts with the popular ‘ball-rolling’ gameplay, where you tilt your iPhone to roll a ball around a level, and adds a nasty little twist: instead of directing a sphere to an exit, you’re now sliding tiles to make a specific pattern’”OXO, to be exact. There are two O tiles and an X tile on each BloXoR level, and they need to be put into that order (either horizontally or vertically) to complete the level.
The fine folks at Terminal Core Games, wanting you to get your $2.99 worth of mental exercise, decided to spice up the game’s 70-odd levels with some familiar obstacles. You’ve got your dummy blocks that get in the way of a quick OXO reunion; you’ve got holes to accidentally drop the OXO into; you’ve got one-way gates, bomb blocks, and bridge blocks.
Once you’re through the tutorial levels, you’ve got to position these elements in exactly the right order to set up the level-ending OXO. This would be tough to deal with even if you could slide one block at a time, exactly the way you wanted to. You can’t. When you tilt the iPhone, everything that’s not bolted down slides in the same direction. So, getting the right blocks to the right places, at the right times, requires careful thought, as well as creative use of each level’s nooks and crannies.
It also takes some serious dexterity. This game’s tilt sensitivity is set (permanently) at a very high level; the difference between a measured slide and free fall is no more than a couple of degrees. BloXoR’s controls will almost certainly cost you some frustrating losses, even after you’ve done everything else right. In addition, we’ve noticed that beating a level is an overly fiddly process of getting the OXO to line up perfectly straight. This can be truly maddening, especially on levels with lots of open space. Happily, the game wisely opens up five levels at a time, so you can simply bypass anything you get really stuck on.
BloXoR’s presentation is utilitarian: it basically looks like a simple board game, but then, this isn’t the kind of game you buy for visual fireworks. We encourage you to listen to your own music while playing–preferably something calming, like Mozart.
Overall, we think that BloXoR is definitely worth three dollars, given its many hours of challenging gameplay. We hope you make it out with your sanity intact.