In the video game world, the puzzle game genre has grown and evolved. Frozax Games is out to prove that sometimes the old ways are best by releasing a digital version of the classic Hashiwokakero logic puzzle. In Hashi Puzzles: Bridges & Islands, players encounter puzzles that feel like the kind that should be included on an IQ test, but enjoyable rather than pressure-filled.
For those unfamiliar with the Hashi puzzle, the rules are fairly quick to learn. On each level, a series of circles representing islands are placed in a grid. All islands must be connected together by drawing a horizontal or vertical bridge from one to another. Each island also has a number on it, indicating the number of bridges that must be connected to it. Adjacent islands can be connected by at most two bridges, and bridges cannot cross paths. The simplicity of the concept make this a game that everyone can feel bold enough to attempt, and eventually players may learn some tricks or general guidelines to follow. There’s even a hint system for those who are struggling.
Aside from how easy it was to jump in and start playing the game, I think I was most impressed by the UI feedback given to the player. Some of the nice touches include warning the player when he or she has accidentally removed any possibility of connecting an island or island group. It does so by flashing those wayward islands in bright red. Each island will also change from the default white to gray when that island has met its quota of bridges, and it switches to a reddish color if the island exceeds its bridge limit. These changes make it easier for the player to see when they’ve misstepped before they’ve gone too far down the wrong path. It may take a bit of edge off the challenge, but it’s not at all a detriment to the enjoyment of conquering each puzzle.
In a sense, playing this game feels a lot like the challenge of solving the daily Sudoku or crossword puzzle. It’s accessible to everyone, though some will struggle more than others. It’s difficult to be overly impressed by Hashi Puzzles because it’s simply a case where a developer has taken a traditional puzzle and produced a digital version for player consumption. What we end up with is a game that those unfamiliar with Hashi should try, but don’t expect anything more than a solid, traditional puzzle experience.
Hashi Puzzles: Bridges & Islands follows a freemium model. The first three sets of 20 puzzles are free to play. Larger-scale, more challenging sets are available as in-app purchases for about two bucks a pop. While this review is based on the iOS version, an Android version is also available.
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