While there is no shortage of puzzle games on Android (and rightly so as they fit the medium perfectly), there are quite a few that come across as clones or without any original thought to the design. Fortunately IceCat Studio didn’t fall into either trap with Crystalux and created a game with a distinct look and feel that should keep you entertained for hours.
The gameplay of Crystalux is very straightforward, you are presented with boards of various sizes and shapes which are filled completely by hexagonal blocks. Most (if not all) of the blocks will have colored crystals embedded in them which are themselves in various shapes that will allow them to connect to crystals on neighboring blocks. Your goal is to move the blocks around in order to properly connect up all the like colored crystals forming a pattern or shape.
If a block is darkened that indicates that it is locked in place and you must work with it as it is. All other blocks may be swapped to any location on the board.
There are currently a total of 90 levels available for Crystalux and based on my time with the game that should probably last you for quite awhile. IceCat Studio has also stated that they will be adding more levels soon so running out of gameplay shouldn’t be an issue.
I was honestly a bit concerned about this as I played my way through the first levels so don’t let that fool you. I was able to churn through the game pretty quickly up until somewhere around level 30 at which point I had to slow down and think a bit more carefully about what I was doing. Obviously your mileage may vary depending on your general aptitude with puzzle games, but for the majority of users I think there is hours of gameplay even with just the existing levels.
This is going to be subjective, but I find the zen/trance music in the background to be a nice accompaniment to a puzzle game. It could perhaps offer a bit more variation than it does, but then again I think that repetition is part of the general vibe of the music.
If you find yourself completely stuck you can tap the magnifying glass in the upper-right corner to get a hint. What this does is place the next block you touch into the appropriate place on the board and lock it in as a darkened block. You are given 4 hints to start with and you will replenish one free hint a day or by sharing to Facebook or Twitter. The hint system is also one of the revenue sources for Crystalux as you may opt to buy additional hints. It’s a well implemented system and I like when an in-app purchase is there to simply help those that would like to progress a little faster through a game rather than to artificially hold back someone that just wants to play.
Crystalux is free to download so if your curiosity is the least bit piqued by this review you should give it a shot as it won’t cost you anything other than a bit of time. The app does feature ads at the bottom of the screen which I didn’t find terribly intrusive, but for $0.99 you can disable the ads if they bother you.
I’m through about half of the available levels at the moment, but I’m a little concerned if the level of difficulty increases at anything like the current pace that the later levels are going to take a relatively long time to solve. If I’m sitting down with the express purpose of playing the game that doesn’t bother me, but it does make the game less friendly for those times when you just have a couple minutes to play. With that said the latest update made it so the game remembers your progress on the current level which means that beating a level over several sittings isn’t a problem. The positive spin on this is both the amount of gameplay available and that the challenge of it makes you want to sit there and keep playing until you take that blasted level down.
From a pure graphics standpoint Crystalux isn’t the most polished title I’ve seen, but it does show a clear attention to detail that I really appreciate in an app or game. The care taken with creating interesting designs in the puzzles makes solving them all the more compelling. And while I know IAPs are a hot button issue for some they are not very intrusive here and are absolutely not necessary to “beat” the game. If you enjoy puzzle games (or think you might, but haven’t found the right one yet) then I would recommend downloading Crystalux and seeing if it wins you over too.