Codex is the first Windows phone 7 game we have featured that doesn’t have Xbox Live features, so it’s a given that there are no Xbox achievements and leader boards, and the game is dumped into the ‘other games’ section of you Games tile.
However, can Codex manage to rise above all of this and prove that games needn’t have the Live extras to succeed on Windows Phone 7?
Well, it succeeds in being a decent game, but I doubt it has the punch to make itself heard on the already busy Marketplace, and is another sign that games, even good ones, are going to struggle on Windows Phone 7 without that Xbox Live branding.
The first thing that will strike you upon booting this up for the first time is the fantastic soundtrack. A mix of classical and modern, uptempo beats, this is one that you will want to plug those headphones in to listen to.
The second thing you will notice is the style of the graphics, with beautifully animated backgrounds throughout, the clockwork gears being particularly worthy of praise.
This level of presentation actually turns out to be somewhat of a double edged sword for Codex, as the graphically rich menus are a real pain to navigate. There are two circular menus you must use to choose your level, with the inner circle showing sets of levels and the outer allowing you to select a level within those level sets. It’s simpler than it sounds, but actually browsing through levels is extremely difficult, and if you should so happen to turn one of the circles and forget where you are, finding your place is woefully hard. Not only do the circles not spin with consistency, the fact that you have to remember symbols for level sets and levels is just silly.
Have the levels you haven’t done yet properly greyed out, or just slap numbers next to the symbols to make navigation easier. I usually wouldn’t labour a small point like this, but it really is a problem.
When you start the game proper, the very slight tutorial just about lets you know what you have to do and you are away. The game is presented as a square grid, and the aim is to make the marked tiles match up with a pattern for each stage. You have a spare tile at all times that is used to push a row or column along, which moves all the tiles in the selection and also creates a new spare tile as the old one joins the row or column.
You do this to make the marked tiles match the shape in as few moves as possible, which isn’t helped by the appearance of tiles that are immovable, meaning a lot of forward thinking is required.
It’s actually pretty entertaining and the puzzles get really, really difficult late on, and the quest to get a gold on each level will keep you occupied for a long time to come. I found the actual gameplay rewarding and addictive, although there is a hint of repetition for those looking for variety.
Two minor issues that I should mention are that there doesn’t seem to be a way to switch the soundtrack, good as it is, off. The other point is that, although the game does run under lock screen, you must wait for it to boot up again before it takes you to where you were before.
Overall then, we have a good puzzle game with great graphics and sound that is only let down by a clunky menu system and slightly repetitive nature. Despite the problems, I can recommend this if you are looking for a long lasting puzzle game that will test your wits and patience.