Lyne iPhone puzzle game review

There's a lot to be said for excitement, but some of us get quite enough of that from our day jobs as - to take a completely random example - online editors on thriving technology websites. Lyne is a puzzle game catering for these kinds of pre-stressed iOS gaming fans.

Lyne is a universal app for both iPhone and iPad, although its bite-sized, one-thumb gameplay makes most sense on the smaller screen. (It is naturally suited to the portrait handgrip of the commuter gamer too, but unusually, it can be played in landscape too; the only difference is that the triangles rotate helpfully to suit the new setting.)

Each level presents a grid of triangles, diamonds and squares of (initially) various pastel colours, along with a few octagonal junction boxes. By tracing your finger across the screen you must draw a line connecting all of the yellow triangles, starting and ending with the heavier-bordered end blocks. Then you draw another connecting all the red squares, and so on. You can use each connecting line only once and touch each shape only once, and you also have to pass through each junction a set number of times - the number indicated by dots.

Written down like that, it sounds absurdly complicated, but it isn't at all; indeed, you'll grasp what the previous paragraph hamfistedly tried to explain within a couple of tutorial levels. It all feels wholly natural - you wonder why no one has made the game before. This is nearly always a good sign.

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The experience of playing Lyne is almost transcendentally calming. This is partly the result of the timeless, thoughtful mechanics, which don't feel like they're punishing you when you get a level wrong. Dots pulse and lines gently glow to point out the bits that aren't working, and instead of having to start from scratch, the game lets you repair only the erroneous lines, from the mistake onwards. It's also down to the restful colour scheme (additional options, such as a 'Tulip' lilac and a 'Deep Space' black, are unlocked as you advance), visual design and typography. But most of all it's the result of the new-age, panpipe-sprinkled soundtrack. It sounds silly but it works.

Lyne iPhone puzzle game review

There are a lot of levels to work through (we've so far unlocked nine sets of 25) and these climb gradually in difficulty. It actually started to feel slightly easier after a while, but we're reasonably sure - or the game was able to convince us - that we were just getting better at the game faster than it was getting harder; either way, the effect was pleasing: a bell curve of challenge and accomplishment rather than an ever-steeper cliff face. This isn't a game for the ultra-competitive.

In addition to the permanent collection, Lyne gives the option of daily level sets. These present one of the few elements of peril within the game, as you have just one day to complete the 25 levels in a set or you lose the points they are worth. But if you really are that excitement-averse - well, perhaps gaming isn't for you.

David Price on Twitter | Macworld on Twitter

If you like Lyne, you may also like:

Hundreds: Similarly elegant and visually pleasing puzzle game, although a little more demanding in terms of hand-eye co-ordination. 

OUR VERDICT

Achingly elegant, minimalist, soothing and cleverly designed, Lyne is the sort of iPhone puzzle game that should be enjoyed by a Finnish intellectual sitting in a red, egg-shaped chair, but will probably work for frazzled commuters too. Smart fun, if hardly the most thrilling experience available in 21st-century life.

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