Taijitu is a simple game. Actually, I take that back. Rather, I’ll say that Taijitu is a simple experience. I say that only because at times times, Taijitu feels more like combing a the sand in a Zen garden than achieving a set objective. That’s not to say that there is no objective, there is. The difference between Taijitu’s objectives and those of a typical game lie in the difference between entertainment and satisfaction.
Your goal is simple: put the shapes in front of you in chromatic balance. More specifically, there are a number of shapes on the screen that form multi-colored patterns, as well as a white line that divide the screen in half. Simply rotate each set pattern until each side of the line contains no more than one shape of every color. The result is satisfying, the way straightening a crooked picture frame is satisfying, or the way making sure two wine glasses contain the same amount of wine. But is it fun? I’m not so sure.
The problem here is that it’s not very challenging. Taijitu contains four chapters, each consisting of 25 levels. At the time of this writing, I’m sitting at level 40, almost half way through the game, and I’ve encountered no resistance in progressing. None. (By the way, if you were looking for a reason to discredit this review, here it is. I still have sixty levels to go). By not having any sense of challenge, completing levels and chapters lacks that feeling of accomplishment that you get from finishing a game like Angry Birds with three stars on every level.
It might sound like I don’t like Taijitu. In fact, I actually find it fills a need in dire need of: something to do while waiting in line at the bank. Or post office. Or while pumping gas. Taijitu is great when you need something simple to keep your attention for five or ten minutes. You can operate the game with just your thumb, and it plays in portrait orientation — perfect for one-handed gaming (er, experiencing?). The visual aesthetic is gorgeous, in a minimalist kind of way, while the music is calming and medatitive. Even with the sound up, you’re unlikely to annoy people nearby (though we wouldn’t recommend playing any game in public with the speaker sound on).
Taijitu has no in-app purchases, which normally we applaud, but in this case, a few extra chapters for an added expense might be nice. Because Taijitu is so much about the game’s aesthetic, you can think of each level like a new piece of art you might hang on your wall. For fans of the experience, four chapters may not be enough.
Would I recommend Taijitu? Well, that really depends on what type of gamer you are. If you crave a mental challenge, in even the simplest of games, you might be happier with a game like threes. If you’re cooperative, stick with Flappy Bird; there’s nothing for you here. But if you’re the type of gamer that loves, say, solitaire, or even tile-matching Bejeweled clones, Taijitu is worth a look. Yes, it’s somewhat mindless, but I think there’s a place for that in gaming. And because there is essentially no challenge, a second or third play-through is likely to be just as satisfactory as the first. For that, we consider purchasing Taijitu in exchange for a more bearable line at the post office two dollars well spent.
Taijitu: A Game About Balance Review: Satisfying the OCD in All of Us
-Calming music and sound
-Limited number of levels