Threes is simple yet elegant, pensive but action-packed, polished while free of fluff. It is an excellent new puzzle for the thrifty among us, and not just in terms of price: the game accomplishes with fewer pixels what many “larger” puzzles fail to do entirely: entertain concisely.
Threes has surprisingly light mathematics involved for a game whose name is also a number (and plural, at that). The game is essentially math-based, but somehow, does not require actively using those math-related brain cells in order to play. The mechanics are easy to learn, even for slow learners, and keep things just difficult enough to be interesting, and just easy enough to be fun. More ambitious players are rewarded via a standard high-score-and-share system, yet the game is also very approachable for beginners.
It begins with numbered cards one and two, which can be combined to form – you guessed it – threes. The ones and twos are made visually distinct by being colored red and blue. Once a three is made, it will combine with other threes, which add to six, which add to 12, and so on. From threes onward, the cards that combine are no longer distinct. That initial layer of ones and twos add slightly to the difficulty, and can also clutter up the board. The game is over when the board is full and no moves can be made.
There are four possible moves, and they affect all cards on the board. Simply swipe upwards to move all cards upward on the board. All adjacent cards able to combine will do so, forming higher-numbered cards.
Not to be cliché, but the third time’s the charm. How is that relevant to this review? Any puzzler is challenged to play this twice and not want to play it a third time. The only possible downside is the long loading time, during which the player is entertained with a simple animation.
Another highlight is the subtle yet complex soundtrack. Composed by the excellent electronic artist Big Giant Circles, it is sure to please, without distracting from the game itself. Don’t make the mistake of turning off the music – grab some headphones if necessary. It’s worth the listen, and is noticeably longer than the typical game background music.
Threes is one small package that packs a punch. Possessors of iPhones should most certainly give it a whirl when craving that daily puzzle fix. If it doesn’t do the trick, then it is quite unlikely to be the fault of this great little game.