Rules! is kind of mobile game we want to see more of. Simple yet addictive and perfect for five-minute bursts of play, it’s a smart puzzler that’s accessible to just about anyone. The game starts out with a four-by-four grid loaded with cartoon portraits numbered one to ten. In order to clear a stage players simply need to tap all sixteen tiles while also abiding to specific rules.
For example, the first stage will command you to tap them in descending order which is easy enough. Upon completion, another rule is then introduced, tasking players with removing all green tiles before reverting back to rule number one. More and more of these parameters are added, forcing players to become faster in order to keep up with the timer while also remembering the sequence of rules.
Luckily there are occasional waypoints which throw out all pre-existing rules, allowing you to catch your breath. On the flipside however, new tiles are brought in, meaning players can’t simply rely on memory. Rules! ends when the timer drops to zero, though this will often be interpreted as an invitation to trump your own personal best.
In that respect Rules! feels a bit like an endless runner, something which has both its pros and cons. The game may incite competitiveness but, on the other hand, will eventually start to lose its grip once players reach their plateau. Though tiles are randomly scattered across the board, the sequence of rules is always the same (descending, greens, odd numbers, nines, and so on). This means you’ll often be climbing the same ladder, but only discovering an extra rung or two if you happen to be on top form.
What would be nice is a bit more variety in terms of game modes. Rules! certainly works as endless score chase though I often found myself longing for something a little more contained. If there were ten-stage levels complete with star ratings and leaderboards ala Angry Birds, it would give Rules! a larger lifespan and room to branch out. Still, as with most popular mobile titles, updates and expansions are inevitable, and hopefully developer TheCodingMonkeys will continue to build on the game’s success.
Another element working in the game’s favour is just how great Rules! looks, mimicking its simplicity. Tiles are adorned with charming cartoon glyphs all set on a beige background. It’s all very minimal yet works a treat as with the game’s interface and menus. As a premium game on the App Store, this also means no adverts: a relief given how so many nifty puzzlers have opted for free-to-play as of late.
With a price tag of £1.49, Rules! sets itself slightly higher than the cheapest bracket of mobile games but is still worth a punt. Although its longevity is contingent on one’s patience, it’s one of the few games I actually find myself returning to a regular basis and one that will definitely be spared from my routine app clear-out.