I wasn’t great at maths in school. I pulled in B’s and C’s… never applied myself… could have done better etc etc. So I’m out to prove myself. And I do it through mathematical puzzle games. So when The Mesh came along, boom, I’m there.
I spent enough time on 2048, pleading with chance (or more accurately, finding a great system to defeat the game) until I’d hit that perfect number. The Mesh is a smoother, more complex and more difficult game that is backed up by a modern, polygonal aesthetic.
The Mesh Review: I’ll be upfront here and say straight away, The Mesh is worth your time. It is a game openly built with a love for maths, puzzles and terrifying countdowns. So let’s dig under the surface and I’ll explain.
Enter The Mesh – World, Design and UI
The team behind The Mesh, Creatiu Lab – who are in charge of a cutesy puzzle matching game called Stubies. I’m not going to say this for certain, but I’d imagine having to deal with super cute puzzle fun all day makes you want to just break free and design a mature and much much more difficult beast. The Mesh is based around the chinese zodiac animals – levels are represented by Rat, Cow, Snake etc and they are lovingly designed. The reduction and simplicity of the animal design goes hand in hand with the minimalist user interface and level advancement.
One of the reasons that I enjoy the touch screen of mobile games is to see how games companies deal with the change from mouse to finger driven interface. A great game will quickly die if the controls aren’t nice. The Mesh, though not needing much complex movement, is a triumph of slick UI design. Hexagonal, roulette wheel interfaces are the dominant system and they are carried through the whole game.
The levels are unlocked in succession as you drag and combine your way up through the game. Adjoining numbers are either added or subtracted from each other in an attempt to mirror the number in the white panel. You pull them together until you’re left with the number itself, or you have numbers left and you lose that amount of panels. Simple enough. But the puzzles are quite complex, at least for this B/C student. I’m not used to holding sums in my head and trying to calculate three or four steps down the road. I blame calculators. And computers. And most technology that makes things easier.
But it’s addictive. As I’m writing this The Mesh review, I’m pushing onwards with my numbers and in much the same way that you take a rusty bike out of the shed (and hey, it still works!) I can feel my brain opening up long since clogged neural pathways.
The taxing balance of numbers is complicated by multipliers, number-randomisers and special bonuses to help you on the way. Alongside these simple pleasures are the occasional and absolutely terrifying bomb and darkness levels. I’m not sure my heart has raced doing maths before, but this was a definite panic-inducer. Great fun.
One downside is the longevity of this style of puzzler – as mentioned at the beginning, I do enjoy these maths puzzlers, but the game span and the attention span are rarely in synchronisation. The gameplay is sufficiently different from the others out there, with some neat twists to keep you guessing. It was never going to be a groundbreaking formula, but what The Mesh does achieve is to build a slick and dangerous little puzzler that is well worth the small change.
Plus, thank god, there are no In-App Purchases flying in your face. More games like this, that are complete, well-built packages and not asking for money straightaway.
I’d absolutely recommend The Mesh – I feel that the puzzle elements are tactile, mind-enhancing and challenging in a curve that will keep me coming back for a while yet. Not quite 5 stars, but as far as maths puzzlers go, this is sitting pretty on top of the heap for now.
Big Plus Points:
- Challenging maths game that will have you scratching your head, then jumping for joy.
- Beautiful and restrained game design.
- Clever animal-theme.
- Perfect touch controls, both gameplay and the UI interface.
- You get the whole game – no IAP’s.
Big Minus Points:
- If you don’t like maths puzzlers, then stay well away.
- Not a new formula by any means.