Can You Dig It? - A Review Of Glyph

Astraware certainly has a knack for bringing the right puzzle games to mobile platforms - anyone heard of a little gem called Bejeweled? However, as far as their relationship with Binoteq and Sandlot Games is concerned, the quality of products hasn't been quite so uniform. Thankfully, Glyph falls happily on the positive side of the unbalanced scale. Part Jawbreaker, part "uncover the picture", and part Simon Says, Glyph is a unique combination of sub-genres that blend together to make a fun and interesting game.

There are two distinct modes to Glyph: adventure and action. The nice thing about this right of the bat is that the two modes play differently, which you'd expect by their names. That doesn't happen very often in a puzzle game. Usually action mode is just a timed version of adventure mode or some such nonsense.

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In adventure mode you're trying to pick up the pieces after some thoughtful but ultimately misguided wizards destroy your planet. To fix things you must recover a bunch of glyphs that have been scattered across the five parts of your shattered world. The glyphs have been buried under ground, and in order to retrieve them you must dig them up. So how do you go about this task? Why, but matching colored shapes, of course! You can clear away any clump of three or more objects of the same color by clicking on them. If any of the objects have ground underneath them, that ground will be cleared away. Once enough ground has been cleared to reveal the glyph, you've beaten the level. Keep in mind that not all objects will have a part of the glyph underneath them.

Once you've collected four glyphs you'll enter Simon Says mode, where you'll have to watch the four glyphs flash and then repeat the order in which they flashed. Once you've successfully replicated a series of these patterns the four glyphs will merge and you move on to search for more glyphs. I'm not really much for the repeating patterns type game play, but it actually makes a nice diversion from the object matching every once in a while. The other thing I like about the way the game is segmented is that after every glyph merging sequence there's a new bit added to the story. It may not be much, but at least it's a reminder that there is a story.

Along the way the game starts adding things to make your life more difficult. After a few levels there will be multiple layers of dirt that must be removed before the pieces of a glyph can be revealed. Then you start getting objects that can't be removed through matching. Next you get levels where one of the colors can be matched, but matching that color won't remove any dirt. Eventually you have more than three colors thrown into the equation. And finally, there's the dreaded timer. Fortunately the timer refills every time you make a match, but unfortunately the timer often runs down rather quickly. Thankfully there are power-ups to help you along the way. You have your common ones, such as clearing a row or column of objects, or clearing all objects in a certain range around you. The bad thing about any power-ups that remove objects is that they don't remove any dirt residing below the objects that are removed. My favorite power-ups are the color sorter and color matcher. The sorter arranges the objects so that objects of like color are together. The matcher lets you pick a color and changes other objects to match that color. The cool thing about the power-ups is that there are three levels to them, which build up as you make matches. For example, the stone sorter at the small level simply rearranges a few objects in the proximity of where you tap, whereas stone sorter at the max level rearranges all objects on the screen.

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On top of all of this you have action mode. In this mode you start with a certain number of rows on the screen, and you're still trying to select groups of three or more objects of like color to make them disappear. You lose a life if the rows get to the top of the screen, and when all your lives are gone the game is over. Depending on the level either additional rows will be added to the bottom of the screen, or new objects will fall from the top of the screen to try and fill space in. After the first few levels this mode can get pretty hectic, which is why I guess it's called action mode!

The graphics are actually quite stunning, given that it is a puzzle game. The frame around the playing board is intricately detailed and changes with each world. The objects look decent and randomly twinkle from time to time. There's even a shimmer that runs across the entire board every once in a while. The glyph sequences look good as well. My only real gripe - and of course I had to have one - is that the type of power-up is hard to read. This isn't a problem in action mode, since the power-ups there appear on the board and aren't labeled.

The sound effects are decent enough, but they can get repetitive after a while. The music is pretty good. It's certainly not my favorite as far as an Astraware game is concerned, but it does the job.

Glyph is one of those games that I think I've appreciated more every time I've played it. The fact that the two game modes are completely different is a big plus. The mixing of color matching with Simon Says game play is quite interesting. The visual elements of the game are very appealing, and the sound isn't too shabby for a puzzle game. All in all, Glyph should make a welcome addition to your mobile collection.

Overall Score: 8/10
Product Page: Glyph Page

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