Finding innovation in a puzzle game is like finding a twin-stick shooter that doesn't feature zombies or neon lights. Whenever you find a new idea, however slight, it's like a refreshing gust of cool air flowing through the musty undercarriage of the App Store.

Chip Chain might not be a giant leap forward, but it has a fresh look, some novel ideas, and a few twists up its croupier's sleeve that mean you have to think in ways that your average match-three puzzler can only dream of.

Chain gang

The game is all about clearing poker chips of different values from a board. There's a handful of different modes, but at the core of the experience lies a simple matching game. Link three or more chips with the same number of them in a straight line and you can make them disappear.

On top of this well-worn mechanic, Chip Chain adds its own suite of new inventions. The chips don't disappear when they're bunched together. Instead, you need to tap one of them, whereupon the other chips pile up and create a new counter with a value one higher than those that made it.

So clearing a line of '1's will get you a '2'. Clear that '2' and not only do you get a '3', but you also get a bonus, usually in the shape of a card. These cards let you add or subtract 1 from a chip of your choice, or pick one up and move it anywhere on the board.

If there are no links to make, you need to place a chip from your stash. Doing so ends any chains you might have running, and also means the game gets to place a chip somewhere on the board as well, usually in a place that ruins your plans.

The chips are up

Choosing which chip to tap adds an extra layer of strategy, and learning to use the cards you're dealt can open some exciting new avenues of play. You're always on your toes, and thinking a few moves ahead is essential to getting the highest scores.

Chip Chain is a clever little puzzler that's easy to pick up, with enough new ideas that it keeps surprising you as you play, and that makes for a novel, entertaining experience.