It’s deceptively simple. It’s deceptively hard. And it’s blatantly addictive. It is ‘Lost Light,’ the newest mobile app game from Disney Interactive and Creature Feep, the studio behind ‘Where’s My Water?’ and other original properties for Disney, now available for Apple iOS and Android devices.
There is, unfortunately, no simple way to explain the game without going through its tutorial, but here is the premise: You must clear blocks from the screen before they reach the top. In order to do that, you connect adjacent blocks in sets equal to the number contained within the blocks themselves (with a minimum of two). So to clear blocks containing the number 3, you must connect three separate units which each total three, four connected units to clear blocks with four and so on. Individual blocks themselves can have any number to begin with (depending on the difficulty), so you must swipe to connect blocks to create the desired sum. So for example, a block worth five can be a single block (5), a four and a one, a two and a three, 5 ones, one three and two ones — you get the idea. As the levels become more difficult, the numbers required become higher and thus more challenging to clear. As an added caveat, while you can create larger blocks by adding adjacent individual blocks in any direction, you can not reduce the size of the block. Fortunately the game is merciful enough to include an undo button as well as a few power up options, but more about those later.
As far as actual gameplay is concerned, there are nine different game challenge types. In brief, they are:
- Matches: Beat the clock by clearing the currently requested numbers in order. You can complete other matches for the sake of clearing up the screen at no penalty other than the time, but you will not progress until you clear the currently requested number.
- Collect: Beat the clock by collecting the total number matches requested for the specified number, such as eight twos — you don’t need to clear all of them at once.
- Score: Beat the clock by reaching the requested score. Larger number blocks mean more points, but they generally also mean more time creating them as well as the required number of them to clear them.
- Survival: Beat the clock by simply surviving until the timer reaches zero.
- Blocks: Beat the clock by clearing the requested number of matches. Some levels also include stones, which must be cleared by clearing matches adjacent to them.
- Mystery Number: Beat the clock by figuring out the requested number of matches given only a range of two numbers. For example, you may be told the range is two and seven, so you must determine what the requested number really is by clearing matches by threes, fours, etc. The game will advise you if your guess is too high or too low by adjusting the range in response.
- Target: Beat the clock by completing the requested number of matches using combinations of numbers of your choosing, just as long as you do not go over the requested number.
- Limbo: Complete enough matches to lower the top bar to meet with the bottom bar. Tip: Don’t neglect what’s under the lower bar as if you clear enough of those, the ones above it will drop. Take advantage of the time the rows freeze when making matches to make additional or other matches, especially twos when possible — they’re quick and dirty and often worth it (plus you can always increase the value when needed).
- Beastie: The last level in each pack. There is no time limit, just a required minimum score which is often not as easy as it sounds.
To assist in accomplishing each level’s goal, the game provides three power-ups:
- Freeze: Halts the timer for a few seconds which is good for completing those close matches or even to knock down some high columns by making quick matches of twos and threes.
- Neighbors: Turns eight surrounding blocks into the same number as the block number you select after activating it. This gives you a total of nine which means you can create a nine block before activating this power-up to maximize points. Or, if you feel daring, create a ten block and hurry to complete the tenth block to clear. TIP: Always go for larger numbers if time allows, but never activate a one tile as it won’t clear since a minimum of two is required.
- Bomb: Explodes and eliminates the blocks that surround the one selected after activating.
Of course with the good news comes the not so good. The power-up serves as a choice between the three at any time and that is on a timer. Once you activate a power-up (and they are not activated when the level starts), you will have to wait until they become available again — if you can last that long.
In addition, there are several nuances to gameplay that are best explained by just playing. For example, depending on the type of level, blocks don’t immediately clear when creating a set, rather they will blink rapidly, giving you the opportunity to either add on or modify the blocks before they disappear. You also have the option at anytime to manually advance the rows of blocks when needed/appropriate.
The levels are arranged in packs, with which there are four included with the app: First Light (essentially the training levels); Deeper Still (graduated levels at a higher difficulty level); Old Forest, New Tricks (an advanced level set); and Still of the Night (basically a novelty level in which the rows of blocks do not advance on their own). The levels per pack ranges from 25-30.
As for as downsides, sometimes the power-ups and other buttons along the bottom don’t seem quite as response as they maybe should be. Otherwise, my only other would-be complaint is that the blocks are sometimes hard to configure exactly how you want them given the relative size of your finger to the individual blocks on the phone’s screen. That said, it’s more of an annoyance and honestly serves to increase the challenge level when playing against the clock.
For a limited time only, ‘Lost Light’ is available for an introductory price of $1.99 with a regular price of $2.99. This to me does seem a bit high, particularly since the app does let you know that additional level packs will be available as in-app purchases, but it’s still a decent buy at the introductory price simply because it’s a really good game. On the positive, there’s no time-limited play or other in-app purchase requirements — this is a welcome return to the traditional app business model.