Negative Shapes, available for iPhone and iPad through the Apple iTunes App Store, and for Android through the Google Play store, is a game that takes a completely different approach that most touch screen based puzzle games do at the moment.
Many puzzle games take a basic concept and strip down the controls and actions you can perform in order to get the game to be as accessible as possible. The problem this creates is that it limits the complexity of the puzzles that can be solved with simple taps and swipes, meaning that a lot of iOS puzzle games blend into one, with only the graphical style to tell games apart.
Negative Shapes has no such problems, with its interface feeling more like a graphical editor than a puzzle game. It does feel a little intimidating at first, but a nifty example tutorial does help you to get your head around things. The basic idea behind the game is to manipulate black and white shapes to form larger shapes, with the real trick being to learn to use negative space to get the result you need.
It starts of fairly easily, but soon becomes a real head scratcher and is one of those puzzling ideas that manages to create eureka moments, as you solve tricky challenges. I have mentioned the advanced tool set in the game, and it is put to good use, with the ability to spin, turn and resize becoming more intuitive the more you use it.
One thing that I do feel can be improved is the way that shapes can easily get lost in amongst other shapes. It can be quite frustrating to find the solution, only to be told that you have used too many shapes, and then have to move everything around to find one errant triangle that you used ages ago, so it would be nice to have a way of finding these lost shapes a little more easily.
There are over 150 levels to play through, which will take you a long time to complete, and there are some real brain teasers in there. There are no ads, and the app is free to download and play, with only a small IAP if you want hints to finish levels. With a little patience, you could finish the entire game without spending a penny, but the option for paid help is there for those that need it.
Special mention has to go out to the look of the game, which is completely striking. It also feels good to have a theme that is tied into the actual gameplay, instead of just being a stylistic choice.
Overall, with hours and hours of gameplay, a pleasingly complex interface and great looks, it is hard not to recommend Negative Shapes as a fantastic puzzle game that is well worth your time.
Negative Shapes can also be found on Android here: Google Play.