At first glance, Connectrode seems like a fairly standard match-three puzzler, which instantly makes you fear for its chances given that the App Store is full of such titles.
Yet, while most entries in this sub-genre opt for an increasingly frantic pace as you progress, Deep Plaid Games’s offering adopts a surprisingly thoughtful and considered approach.
Coloured computer chips with cute emoticon-esque faces – as is the current de facto iOS puzzle game standard - sit on a grid waiting for you to link them up. This is done by placing similarly hued (albeit faceless) connector chips between them.
Rather uniquely, the tiles themselves don't fall from the top. Instead, you’re simply given another piece to place as soon as you've positioned the previous one. There’s no rushing here – the game wants you to take your time.
And that’s because you’ll need to think a little more about your moves. It’s not merely a case of slapping chips down and waiting for the points to roll in: the game’s novel twist means you can only place them in spaces with a clear route from the top.
Place a chip in a narrow gap, and you can find a large area of the board is suddenly inaccessible. On the higher difficulty levels, with more intricate patterns of chips and a wider range of colours, you’ll need to think carefully about every move you make.
Besides, the shortest path between chips isn’t necessarily the best. To earn big points, you’ll need to build streaks (clearing chips in consecutive turns) or aim to clear more than two chips at once.
Of course, there’s a risk in setting both of these up, as every move that doesn’t remove any chips reduces the amount of space you have to work within.
Even so, Connectrode rarely feels like the kind of game in which high scores are of as much import as the simple gratification of clearing the board on a tricky level.
The relaxing music (which does admittedly increase in intensity when you find yourself in trouble) has an almost soporific effect, making it the perfect pre-bed treat for puzzle fans.
Its sound effects deserve special mention, too. Clearing a group of chips produces an oddly satisfying audio couplet: a high-pitched whine similar to a camera flash charging, followed by what sounds like an old dot matrix printer running off a short line of text.
Out of control
There is, however, one fairly significant issue. While the game presents two ways to move your tiles – either dragging them into position or tapping in the space you’re aiming for – you’re required to confirm the placement by hitting an icon.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to tap the ‘place’ icon and witness your tile instantly warping to the space you just touched. As the icon is fairly large, redressing the issue often results in your confirming the now incorrect placement.
If not entirely ruinous, it’s an issue that could so easily be resolved – hopefully, we’ll see it fixed in a future patch.
Otherwise, Connectrode is a confident and likeable puzzler, whose atypically tranquil approach will help it find the audience it deserves.