Smart Color Path is an odd little game, but one that has really won on me over during the last few days of gameplay. The game seems to clash with itself when you first start playing, with the look and graphics not seeming to mesh well with the complex gameplay, but after a while it all starts to make sense and you realise that this is actually a gorgeous looking puzzling treat.
Available for iPhone and iPad through the Apple iTunes App Store, Smart Color Path is an initially baffling game. Yes, there is a brief text tutorial, but I really feel that there should be a more visual guide to tell you what is going on, maybe a demonstration, followed by a few very simple levels. Once you do ‘get it’, it is great, but I feel the developer could do more to teach players.
Once you do get started, the puzzles are fabulous fun. The idea is to make a line of circles across the screen, and you can drag them around to mix and match them, but they must match at least one colour in the preceding circle and also the following circle, and only colours that are either in the centre of each circle or are touching at the edge. With each circle containing between three and six colours and designed in an obtuse manner, it is very tricky.
When you solve puzzles, you get points that you can save up to get a hint for one of the tougher puzzles, although the game will deduct points for giving up on a puzzle. The game saves the score of the last game you played, but I really wish it saved all your scores so you could browse through them and remember tricky puzzles that you have completed, and it would be even better if you could replay these levels and see if you could beat your own time and moves.
There are three difficulty levels, and random level generation, giving you pretty much unlimited levels. This is great but I wish there was a way to replay completed levels to beat your own score.
I was going to criticise that game for not allowing you to back out and return to a level later, as there is a severe points penalty for doing so and the level is also gone forever, but after reflection I actually think this is a good thing. I remember the physical puzzles that my Mum would spend weeks, if not months finishing, sliding rings around for hours, and the puzzles here feel a little like that. Instead of the quick puzzle after puzzle ethos of many iOS games, here you sit and work on one big problem at a time, until the answer is just staring you in the face.
Finishing one of the tougher stages here without a hint is very satisfying, and one of the best feelings in iOS gaming. Yes, more work is needed on the tutorial, and I wish favourite levels could be kept forever, especially to challenge friends with, but the core game design here is very strong indeed.
Highly recommended for puzzle nerds everywhere, Smart Color Path is an excellent puzzle game, hence the outstanding score below.