Game Reviews

DoubleTake!

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DoubleTake!
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It's hard to breathe life into a style of game that never really had any in the first place. That's the task that Retro Dreamer has set itself with DoubleTake!, its uncomfortably named take on Pelmanism.

While the game might have all the neon colours and lightning flashes that we've come to expect from modern, energetic puzzle games, there's still the ominous question about the core mechanic itself.

How can you take what is essentially a memory test and turn it into an exciting and entertaining experience? The unfortunate answer, from this evidence at least, seems to be that you can't.

I've got a match for you

The aim of the game is to match pairs of hidden symbols. You tap on one to spin it round, then tap on another. If they're the same, they disappear from the board. If they're not, they flip back over, hiding their symbols and letting you try again.

Except now you know what two of the symbols in play are. You build up a knowledge bank through trial and error, discovering some pairs by luck along the way and others by remembering that there was a square one in the corner that you tried to match with a triangle.

Retro Dreamer tries to make things interesting with big flashes of light and combo points when you clear pairs in quick succession. The board shuffles itself around as well, although not so much as to make remembering where things are impossible.

Stabbing pairs in the front

There are four modes to choose from, each of which is a variant on the same theme. Survival sees you matching pairs to keep your health bar full, whilst Basic is just a race to clear the screen in as quick a time as possible.

Timed replaces Survival's depleting health bar with a depleting clock, and Sprint is all about matching as many pairs as possible in a minute. All four are reasonably entertaining in short bursts, but longer play sessions reveal the problem inherent with any pair-matching game.

A large portion of any time you spend playing DoubleTake! is going to taken up with wild stabs in the dark. There's no skill involved - all you need is a reasonably good short-term memory and the occasional slice of luck.

Double taken the mick

Whereas in other puzzle games you can build clever strategies and work out the best way to assault problems, pair-matching titles just flop into the same predictable, tile flipping rut.

The Retro Dreamer team is clearly talented, and the product it has created is a highly polished one. The music in particular stands out - a blend of ambient synth noises that sets the scene perfectly and wouldn't be out of place in a triple-A release.

But as talented the developer is, it would have taken the combined forces of an army of savants to build something enjoyable out of the Pelmanism template. Pair-matching games just aren't that much fun, even if they're given a shiny lick of paint.

DoubleTake!

While a great deal of effort has clearly gone into the look and feel of DoubleTake!, you can't help but think it would have been better spent on something else
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