From Ten Foiled Hats comes Darkin, a game in the familiar tile-matching genre. Match three or more adjacent tiles to clear them and new tiles fall in to take their place. Darkin’s twist on tile matching is the ability to link adjacent tiles together around the screen to clear them, as well as ditching the timer in order to create a turn-based strategy-like puzzle game. Enemies, which damage you every turn they’re on the board, are mixed in with the tiles meaning you’ll have to clear them to avoid taking damage. If you let your enemies live too long, your health will hit zero and the game is over.
The tile-match genre has taken a beating because some recent titles, which I probably don’t have to name, have spoiled it with their blatant cash grabs. Darkin is different. The game is honest. You pay your $2.99 and for that you get a polished puzzle game absent the persistent sales pitch of in-app purchases to frustrated players. There are no IAPs or power-boosts because the game doesn’t need them. It’s been correctly balanced and does away with impossible levels designed to hit you up for cash in order to complete, or just plain piss you off. Simple.
As you collect coins, you can spend them on upgrades like dealing more damage or having a greater health pool. Collecting moons unlocks power-ups, and hearts refill your health. You damage enemies by linking them to your bite, as denoted by the fang tiles that bring back fond memories of the plastic fangs you would buy in vending machines as a kid.
There are no timers in Darkin. Absent a timer, you get to make deliberate, strategic plays. Instead of twitching and frantically clicking the screen to race against the clock, you’re employing real strategy to manage your health, resources, upgrades and the game board. Enemies have fun and creative abilities that require a cunning mind to defeat. Darkin gives you all the tools to pull it off without ever making you feel like the game is stacked against you or that your virtual opponents are cheating.
The only gripe I have with Darkin is how infrequently the perks are unlocked. There are a whole heap of perks from inside the menu, but I’ve only unlocked two of them after almost 4 hours of play. With such long intervals between unlocks, it feels very unlikely I’ll ever get to even try them all. Having said that, it feels good to know the grind is there to prolong gameplay, rather than squeeze a nickle from my wallet.
The game is intuitive and fun. Even for people who aren’t terribly into the genre can expect Darkin to survive several rounds of app-deletion, which is really a testament to how good it is. Its games like this that are going to bring mobile gaming up to the level of dedicated gaming machines like the Nintendo 3DS (or in my case, Gameboy). Much like games of old, you won’t be buying your way past levels or into over-powered abilities. Conversely, you won’t find impossible enemies or stages that require to you to do so. You’ll have to beat Darkin the way I beat Super Mario Land: like a boss.
Darkin Review: The Fangtasia of Tile-Matching Fun
- No In-App Purchases
- Genuinely Fun
- Clan Perks are unlocked too infrequently.