Rare is the child who doesn't, on occasion, wander off somewhere they shouldn't and find himself in a strange, dark, or scary place. The automatic reaction in such a situation is to seek the comforting, familiar grasp of an adult hand.
We've all been there, and so naturally it's easy to empathise with the Peablins, the innocent creatures at the heart of 10tons's Joining Hands.
These cute little spirits find themselves stranded in a dark wood, and it's your job to make sure they feel safe by linking their tiny four-fingered mitts.Risky woods
Each level of the "forest" contains a grid of interlocking hexagons on which the Peablins sit. To begin with, they'll have sad, frightened looks on their wee faces, and will only cheer up when they've been linked with an appropriate number of their friends.
Further complicating matters, these critters don't all have the same number of hands - some have just one, others have six, and so keeping them happy is no easy task.
After easing you in with a few simple puzzles, the game ramps up the difficulty, leaving you with some tricky dilemmas as you figure out where best to position the Peablins.
Each stage also contains a star or three to collect – if a Peablin is positioned on that space when you complete a level, it'll be added to your tally, which helps to unlock later episodes.
Every new chapter introduces a fresh monster type, ranging from ghosts who scare Peablins in adjacent areas to pale emo-fringed creatures who just want to be left alone.Tough love
Once beyond the first two chapters and the introductory stages for each new creature, Joining Hands can get surprisingly tricky. You'll often work out what seems like the perfect arrangement, only to find a single unhappy straggler forces you back to square one.
The Peablins will automatically reach for the hand of another, but on occasions where they have several choices, they won't always pick the right one.
This means it's possible to have the correct solution, but with the wrong hands linked. In other words, while you're less likely to finish a level by happy accident – though this does happen on occasion – the answer can be staring you in the face without your realising it.
Still, without the pressures of a time limit, you can complete each puzzle at your own leisure. And with 90 stages in total, and more to come via updates, there's a fairly substantial selection to work through.Pleasures of the palm
Meanwhile, the charming presentation is encouragement enough to persevere. The monsters are adorable and characterful, and their look of delight as they find their friends is heartwarming. As you complete a level, the forest clearing will brighten, and you'll hear them yelp with joy as birds twitter sweetly in the background – a gently touching reward for your efforts.
With just the one game mode, Joining Hands is probably best played in short bursts to avoid repetition, though the elegant simplicity of its mechanics provides plenty of one-more-go appeal.
There are more thrilling puzzle games on iOS, but the sedate pace and philanthropic objective of Joining Hands make it difficult to resist.
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