There's something compelling about restoring order from chaos, which is why sliding puzzles appear everywhere, from children's party bags to arthouse indie games.
RubPix from Bulkypix is a sliding puzzle on a much grander, more complicated scale than you've come to expect.
The simple joy of putting a picture together is still present, but it's accompanied by frustration and maybe even a little bit of shame ("I was so good at this when I was a kid!")
Let it slide
RubPix involves putting colours back into place instead of restoring a picture. Each level presents you with a pattern that you must replicate.
All you need to do is slide the pieces of the mixed-up colour palette until the original pattern is restored. But it's easier said than done.
You can slide pieces horizontally or vertically, but all the pieces in a row or a column move together.
Getting things back to normal means isolating pieces and moving them into their proper positions - which, in turn, knocks other pieces out of position. You know the routine.
Playing RubPix is like riding a see-saw of emotion. One minute you're pleased with yourself for shifting a stubborn piece into place. The next, you feel dismayed at the sight of all the other pieces you had to kick out of place just to get that accursed red square back where it belongs.
All the colours of the rainbow
As you progress through RubPix, the challenge gradually increases. Colour patterns become more difficult to shift back into position, and the size of the grid increases as well. You begin with three-by-three grids, and eventually progress to eight-by-eight. Break out those glasses: the pieces you slide around wind up getting pretty small.
When you solve a puzzle in RubPix, you're awarded gold nuggets that can be used to skip over puzzles that have you stuck. You can also use nuggets to unlock puzzles further down the list, which is a good way to access the eight-by-eight puzzles without having to work your way to them.
However, unlocking and skipping levels is pretty expensive. It would be nice if you could bounce around without having to rely on nuggets.
RubPix is challenging and packed with lots of content (150 puzzles at the time of this writing, with more coming soon). There's lots to love about it, though if you didn't much appreciate getting sliding puzzle games in your party bags when you were a kid it's fair to say you won't find much to enjoy here.