There are some games you understand bones to brains the second you pick them up. It's a symptom of years of play - some genres haven't really changed since they first appeared, iterating rather than revolutionising with every step. Then there are games that shock you, games that twist your fingers and your grey matter to breaking point - games like Jumpgrid.

Is it an action game? Is it a puzzler? Is it a crazed mix of the two that requires not just speedy swipes, but speedy thought too? Yeah, it's all of those. And a bunch of other stuff as well. It's also pretty darn brilliant.

Grid and love it

The game takes place on a grid. You can swipe up or down, left or right, to move around the lines of that grid. Your job is to grab all the nodes, unlock the exit, and then escape. It sounds pretty easy, because I've not told you the difficult part yet.

The difficult part involves the lasers that are flashing up as you try and pick up everything you need to get out. These follow a set pattern that changes every level, and if you touch a single one you're going to die.

Luckily you can jump over these death rays. Unluckily they move ridiculously fast, try and outsmart you at every turn, and demand split second precision if you actually want to get over them. You will want to get over them though.

Jumpgrid iOS screenshot - Playing speed run mode

That's because Jumpgrid understands that it's a simple game. Sure it adds more as you play, but the core of the swipe to move mechanics never change. You know what's expected from you by the second level, even if you're not quite capable of delivering it yet.

You'll learn patterns, figure out secrets, and dart through levels that always feel like you're just on the verge of catastrophe. Sometimes you are on the verge of catastrophe, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Other times though, when you're a pixel away from death and succeed - that's a feeling that's hard to beat.

The game throws in variations, crueler concepts, and more as you play. The dev describes it as bullet hell Pac-Man, and to be honest that's better than anything we could come up with to do the same job.

Grid lock

What really sets Jumpgrid apart though is the confidence it has. Each level fits perfectly after the next, and even the super difficult sort-of-boss-fights are going to have you at the edge of your seat and on the verge of tears at the same time. That confidence stems from the game's ease of play, and allows for some amazing design decisions, especially when you make it to later levels.

In years to come, Jumpgrid could well be mentioned in the same breath as Super Hexagon. It's likely to be as divisive, if not as nausea inducing, as well. This is a super tough, but super rewarding challenge, and it shows that there's still so much room for fresh ideas in the gaming world.

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