Brought to us by Australian indie developer Thomas Bowker, LYNE is a minimalist puzzle game that tasks you with connecting sets of colored shapes, without crossing or re-tracing any lines along the way. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is by design; LYNE claims to be “deceptively simple” yet “infinitely complex”. But does it do enough to set itself apart from the ever-growing library of puzzlers competing for gamers’ attention?
LYNE is designed to be as streamlined and polished as possible. Your first moments with the game set the tone for the entire experience as you’re met with crisp lines, pastel colors and gentle sounds, making for a very refined appearance. The menus are easily navigated as well, and overall everything feels calculated and elegant. The puzzles themselves are divided into lettered sets of 25, and completing a set earns you anywhere from one to five points, depending on the difficulty. As you accumulate points, you’ll unlock additional level sets and color palettes. There are hundreds of puzzles pre-loaded, but you also have access to daily puzzles, which range in difficulty by day.
The puzzles start off easy, acquainting you with the controls and basic gameplay with a few stylized visual prompts. However, after the first level set you’re on your own. Still, the difficulty curve is gentle enough to welcome even those who have never tried a puzzle game before, while still appealing to even the most hardcore of puzzle masters. No lives and no time limit means the pressures of performance and progression are removed, placing the focus on the player’s experience with the game. There is a surprising amount of variety in the puzzle design, all while only ever using four different shapes. It’s not overcomplicated, and if you ever feel yourself growing tired of looking at the same colored shapes in different arrangements you can simply change the color palette for a fresh visual experience. Completing a puzzle sends it sliding off to the left to be replaced by another, and a total lack of load time helps LYNE maintain a superb flow.
As excellent as the puzzle design is, the secret of LYNE lies in its audio. Ambient and echoing but never obtrusive, the soft tones that emanate from each connected shape combine with the minimalist visuals to create an impressively immersive and calming environment. I often ended up playing it after a stressful day, and found relief in its gentle, tranquil presentation. That combined with the satisfaction of puzzle completion means it easy to lose yourself in LYNE.
At $3, its price is a bit steep for a seemingly simple puzzle game, but you’re also spared from ads and in-app purchases, and you’ll be treated to new puzzles every day for the lifetime of the game. It’s a shame so many people will pass over LYNE without a second thought just because it’s not free or under a buck, because it truly does offer a unique and immersive experience.
LYNE is a great game not only for its clever puzzles, but for the soul soothing elegance it emanates throughout the experience. Don’t let the price stop you: this is a game worth owning. If you’re looking for the next Tetris you won’t find it here, but LYNE distances itself from the frantic and competitive nature of other games in the genre for a gentle yet challenging experience that is perfect for your mobile device.