Blek is that kind of whim-purchase that pays off. Hidden beneath the minimalist exterior is a fiendish puzzle game that taps into that golden gamer zone of furious level repetition till you scream with victory.
Blek has been steadily collecting awards and I’m a sucker for the best-of lists, so here’s my Blek Review (on the iPad).
This Blek review evoked a certain memory in my gaming past. There was a game back in my childhood called The Fantastic Machine or something like that. You connected ropes to little machines and then it was all about getting a basket ball in a net on the other side of the screen. It was great. I remember being glued to the fine pixels of fate as the ball missed the net. Then I carefully altered the ropes and had another go.
Essence of Repetition
This essence of repetition is, for me, a key aspect of gaming. If you are the same, then Blek is going to hand you that in spades. It’s that sense of exploration, of freeform creation that holds the attention in Blek. Levels are designed to aid this approach. Like the revelation of our old friend Deus Ex, you can solve the level how you want. Sort of.
Purity of design
Blek taps into this with a purity of design that is fluid, pretty and functional. No wonder it won the Apple Design Award. However, the design is integral to the game and that is the standout feature. Such a minimalistic lives or dies on the gameplay and how it integrates with the visuals. Blek is a standout example of that fine balance between aesthetics and playability.
Touch Screen Game Mechanics
Touch screen is the only way that Blek could work. There is a huge sense of connection with the puzzle landscape as you craft the next attempted swipe. Simplicity is your friend. It is this reduction of errors, of smoothing of trajectories; that is at the heart of Blek.
Don’t let your attempt fall into the black holes. Touch all the colours. Simple.
The difficulty curve with Blek is carefully planned, introducing concepts and solving styles in an orderly manner. The ramp starts to steepen and once you’re into the tempo side of the game (level 50 or so), then it starts to get difficult.
One of the appeals of this game is that everyone has different perceptive problem solving. What might be hard for one individual, is easier for someone else. Or someone with tiny, super-precise fingers.
One of the downsides for me is that Blek doesn’t command top draw attention within my games folder. Things like Hearthstone and Vainglory are the bullies in question. If I’ve twenty minutes free, then chances are I’ll look to one of them. The chunky multiplayer games tend to demand more daily attention and Blek loses out. But I’m learning to relish those Blekkish windows of opportunity.
For me, Blek falls into the microgaming category. It’s a keeper because it will sit in my folder and be played over weeks/months. It commands short, intensive attention that is allowed to be frustrating, with a beautiful sense of achievement once you advance. The three minutes when a cup of tea is brewing. That is Blek time.
Big Plus Points:
- Touch screen puzzle delight. Clever and complex.
- The early levels are a joy to play, with added completion-rush with the later levels.
- Excellent and clean design really reduces the experience to core puzzle solving.
- Definitely worth the price of admission. It’ll keep you puzzling for ages.
Big Minus Points:
- I won’t be able to play it again. Minimal replay factor once the code is cracked.
- Tempo levels are tough. Frustration can overwhelm the casual player.