The Guides is an enthralling, mysterious puzzler that'll melt your brain

The App Army Assembles

The Guides is an enthralling, mysterious puzzler that'll melt your brain
| The Guides

Each week, we ask members of our App Army for their feedback on the latest and greatest releases on mobile.

One top pick this week was Kevin Bradford's cryptic code-cracking puzzler The Guides.

Let's see what our App Army had to say...

This seems interesting, but it's really difficult so far! It feels like there's almost a horror / mystery element to it too. Super cool.

Very interesting indeed! The Guides drops you right in with no guidance or help. You kind of get an idea about what is required on each level, but it's not obvious at first.

Although it's not easy, it does keep you engaged and wanting to progress further. It's more like digital art than a game.

I wonder what message it's trying to impart. Could be one of those life changing moments!

Wow, ten minutes in and I feel like a hacker already. Just look at this thing!

The hints aren't really that helpful, but I don't think they are supposed to be to be honest...

Is there a score system to the game? Does using hints reduce the score?

Not that I can see, just progression to the next level...

Ah. So it's end-game driven?

No real game either, so to speak. No story, no plot, no real reason to play it other than getting through each level. It's just a page of info, a single hint and then a box that you can type the answer in.

I'm only on the first section though; page 16 out of 25. There's still a second section to get through, so maybe more will become apparent as I progress.

Completed section one and I'm really impressed. The game offers challenging puzzles with solutions that are often simple, but it can take a while to wrap your head around them.

You can get a hint if you're stuck, which makes it a little easier, but even after you get the hint you're still overheating your brain to work out the solution.

The Guides has a really smart mechanics too. Sometimes the answer is hidden in a letter or a picture, other times you'll have to use built-in decoders to decrypt the message.

The help feature is particularly novel. Tap a button and it generates an e-mail to the developer. I've sent one so I'm waiting to hear back.

I get the feeling that the developer's inbox is going to get pretty full pretty quickly!

I've had a great experience with The Guides overall. I like puzzle games like these where they feel very discreet and ominous.

You get dropped into the game with no background info at all, and I think that really adds to the feeling of mystery.

The puzzles can be quite challenging, but they're always fun to solve. At 79p I recommend The Guides, even if you aren't into puzzle-oriented apps.

The Guides definitely gets the prize for most obscure and non-standard puzzle game I've ever played. It's still really good. Almost at part two now, just need to figure out this code...

The Guides is amazing!

At times it's completely and utterly obscure, where you have absolutely no clue what you're doing. There's no overall goal other than to beating each level, but boy is it ever addictive!

Definitely up there with Monument Valley on my list of out there, innovative puzzlers. Well worth every penny and second of your time.

This game is confusing, frustrating, unclear, and utterly, completely fantastic.

I actually yelled out loud when I figured out that last level. No game has ever elicited such a response from me after completing it.

It's brilliant, uncompromising, satisfying, and one of the best games I have ever played on my phone... quite possibly on any platform.

Everyone should play this - the journey is worth it.

It's very rare to see such a clever enigma game on a mobile platform.

Once you work out each puzzle's solution you'll look back, wondering how you could spend so many minutes, or even hours on each of these challenges.

It's frustrating, intelligent, and confusing. A game that leaves you feeling obsessed, and makes you shout out when you complete it.

I really hope we'll see more levels in The Guides somewhere down the line!

This game is extraordinary. It's often very difficult, and at times makes you feel as if you need to be a member of Mensa to be able to take part.

The graphics are gorgeous and vary from chaotic, Matrix-style green computer screens to beautiful sculptures of ancient Greek figures. I feel like there is an in-depth, dark story hidden behind these tough puzzles.

Having a forum like App Army to talk through some of these problems is a great help. The hint system in the game is fine... but it's not always helpful.

The fact that it explains nothing about the game is wonderful. You have to want to play this game to understand it and enjoy it.

If perplexing puzzles with no hand-holding is your idea of a good time, The Guides is for you. This is the first time I've played this kind of game, and I feel it fits the platform perfectly.

I can't express how great this experience is. I hope the developer continues to add content too!

You know you are in for a ride when the intro of the game sends a chill down your spine and then throws you right in the midst of a cryptic conundrum.

The Guides has really made an impression on me. It's a game with tough as nails puzzles, and an unapologetically steep learning curve.

Unfortunately, this aspect of the game is a double-edged sword. While some will enjoy putting on their thinking caps for each level, others might find it off-putting.

I personally enjoyed solving or attempting to solve the puzzles the game presented and was impressed with the variety and the interesting solution that each one had.

What I'd like to see here is a more detailed hint system, and a small intro at the start to familiarise you with how the game mechanics work.

I do understand this might be detrimental to the theme the game is trying to go with though.

As a fan of big puzzle games I really enjoyed playing through this. It seems weird at first glance, but it is actually a unique puzzler and a real brain teaser.

You don't really know why you are solving the puzzles, but it makes you feel like you're a military hacker or a spy. I think I read in one of the game's documents, that you're supposed to be an experiment of some sort... curious!

The puzzles themselves are just as mysterious as the whole atmosphere of The Guides. They are some of the most challenging riddles I've ever had to solve.

When you finally solve each mystery after plenty of head scratching, your first thought is "How did I take so long to get that!?" Then you get thrown right into the next one.

I really don't have anything negative to say about this game. It's challenging, kooky, and unique.

Didn't really enjoy this deliberately abstract puzzler. The lack of credible storyline is just an excuse to present the player with a series of unimaginative and dull problems to solve.

Many of these are obvious, but end up obscured as you must type in the answer in the way that the game wants it to be written.

The puzzles are so laborious that I would sooner turn off the app rather than manually work out codes in my head.

Any hint of a storyline is quickly clouded by the fog of pretentiousness. Not for me, I'm afraid.

The Guides is not a your usual casual puzzle game. It demands your full attention, and makes you work hard for each answer.

The game has a brilliant style to it, with very simple visuals, but also a somewhat sinister look about it.

While it doesn't hold your hand at any point, the menus and tools are easy to navigate, so you never feel cheated.

The puzzles themselves require both lateral and critical thinking, but I also found some to be very similar to each other, meaning you just have to reapply previous solutions to the new problem.

As long as you are prepared to put in some work to discover some solutions, The Guides makes a nice change to the simple and cheerful 'three-star' puzzlers.

That said, it may not the game to pick up if you're trying to have a relaxing evening.

The Guides is utterly fantastic. It's incredibly challenging, suits its style to a tee, and the puzzles are very, very clever.

The game may have only 50 levels, but that's more than enough to keep the gears in your head spinning for hours.

Each level often has a rather simple solution, but it's easy to get distracted by other details. I even came up with a two page theory on how the last level could be solved, only to find out that the solution was something entirely different.

I also really like the social aspect of the game. Solving it yourself is nearly impossible, as every level requires a different approach.

You'll have to need other people to help you out when you're stuck, and they'll need you if they're stuck, which is pretty neat.

I literally have no negative things to say about this game, but I'd love to see more content added to this gaming masterpiece.

The Guides is one of the best games I've ever played, and I can see plenty of people becoming as hooked as I was!

The App Army have spoken! If you'd like to sign up, please have a gander at our App Army application article. Did you pick up The Guides? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!
Danny Russell
Danny Russell
After spending years in Japan collecting game developers' business cards, Danny has returned to the UK to breed Pokemon. He spends his time championing elusive region-exclusive games while shaking his fist at the whole region-locking thing.