“Match 3 at mach 3” – this little gem, stolen from TSA reader Kennykazey, sums up Futurlab’s latest PlayStation Mobile game “Surge” absolutely perfectly. Whilst looking relatively simple on the surface, Surge takes the match 3 puzzle genre, gives it an almighty kick up the arse and in the process becomes one of the best puzzle games I’ve ever played.
Each game starts with a number of different coloured blocks on the screen. Touching a block and dragging your finger across the screen to another block of the same colour will connect them – with the caveat that only blocks with exposed edges can be highlighted. Once connected these blocks will be destroyed, clearing space on the screen and allowing you access to blocks that were previously unreachable. The overall aim is to clear the entire screen and move on to the next level.
That on its own would be fairly addictive, but Futurlab takes things up a notch with several additions. First off are a number of special blocks that, when connected, have various effects on the surroundings. One block will blow up all blocks of the colour it is associated with, whilst another may turn all the blocks into a single colour, allowing for large bonus points to be collected.
No puzzle game would be complete without an element of danger, and Surge doesn’t disappoint. To the left and right of the screen are little bars that begin to fill as the level progresses. When the bar is almost full an alarm will sound, signalling the need to activate vents which have been placed on either side of the screen. The only problem is that these vents are covered over with blocks, so getting to them requires some deft finger work. If you fail to vent then it’s game over.
Just to make things even trickier more blocks will appear on the screen at set intervals, meaning that nice clear vent you’ve just made can very easily become blocked. Whilst starting at a manageable pace, it soon lives up to the mach 3 tagline and absolutely flies along.
I love Surge – it’s absolutely mental. There’s so much going on yet it never feels overwhelming; in fact it’s one of those games where you’ll enter a trance-like state as your reactions take over and your finger just automatically darts across the screen. I’ve just played it for two hours straight, and although my eyes feel like they are about to pop, I can’t wait to load up my Vita and dive right back in.
For £2.59 it’s a must-have.