By: Ian MacLarty
I absolutely adored Ian MacLarty’s Dissembler, a chill but tricky puzzler with all the right quality-of-life features, such as an unlimited undo button and the ability to unlock all levels from the start. It was one of my favorite games of 2018 and for a good while the six daily puzzles were part of my morning ritual. But alas, it wasn’t Ian’s usual kind of game. He’s better known for things like Boson X, a fast-paced endless runner that’s a solid game but not really my speed. And by that, I mean it’s way too stressful for me and I bounced off it pretty quickly. So when I saw he had a new PC game called Jumpgrid that went back to his roots, I was intrigued but also not as excited as I would be to hear about a Dissembler update. And yet, here I am, hours after being sent a pre-release copy of the iOS version, and I can’t get it out of my head. I keep going back for more.
I went in completely blind, knowing very little of the game. But the controls are super intuitive, as you just swipe anywhere on the screen to jump from one node to another. The idea is to collect all the gems and then jump through the teleporter in the center, all while avoiding moving obstacles. The hazards come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and have different movement patterns. As things get faster and crazier, you need to learn their patterns so they can’t catch you by surprise. But the really interesting stuff starts just a few levels in, where you learn that you can jump over obstacles as long as they’re not too wide and there’s room for you to land on the next node. And on top of that, the grid isn’t confined — if you’re all the way to the right and swipe right, you’ll wrap around to the left side. I’m still getting used to that an learning to use it to my advantage instead of getting killed by it.
The iOS version boasts both graphical and audio enhancements over the PC version, as well as a new infinite mode. After making it through 15% of the campaign mode on my iPad, I started messing with the endless mode in portrait on my iPhone and got completely hooked. It’s so satisfying each time my score inches up a bit. I can see that, even though this game isn’t my usual speed, I’m going to spend a lot of time with it. And it doesn’t hurt that the campaign mode can be slowed down for those who don’t have perfect reflexes but still want to try and play through the whole thing. I’ll hopefully have a proper review once the game is out, but I just had to share my excitement over not sucking at it as much as I expected. Jumpgrid releases on iOS on May 9th for the one-time price of $2.99, with no IAPs, ads or those silly continues. If it looks like your kind of thing, you can pre-order it right now or wait until I have more to say about it after release.