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For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

Blue ribbon

Product: Strata | Developer: Graveck | Publisher: Graveck | Format: iPad | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Strata iPad, thumbnail 1
In my experience, 'strata' is a word used by smug academic types, dull number crunchers, and politicians.

It's not the best first impression for an iOS game, then. But that's one of very few nits it's possible to pick from this classy puzzler.

Here's a game that shares a blend of intuitiveness, style, and smarts with many of the best iOS puzzlers out there. Yet, it's not quite like anything else.

Unravelling the mystery

The idea is to swipe coloured ribbons across a grid containing variously arranged and coloured squares. You have to swipe along each row and column across two sides, creating a lattice of interesting coloured strips.

The thing is: each coloured square has to have a ribbon of the corresponding colour on top of it and the other ribbon that inevitably passes over it.

Suffice it to say, the game is far tougher to describe than it is to play (though that's not to say you'll be able to work your way through the stages without engaging your brain).

There's something about this game's unorthodox setup that means your logical abilities are stretched that little bit further than they were in the last generic puzzler you played.

That really is all there is to Strata. In subsequent level sets, Graveck simply adds an extra row to the grid, thus increasing the scale and complexity of each puzzle.

All tied up

Some might see this narrow focus as a weakness, but there's something appealing about a puzzle game dev that doesn't resort to gimmicky power-ups or level furniture to add variety or challenge.

Of course, such embellishments are often necessary to keep things fresh, but Strata's original concept and solid mechanics ensure that it stands on its own two feet.

IAPs explained
There are five level packs, but the final two require IAPs to unlock.

The first of these is the Sundry Set, which costs 69p / 99c to open up. The second is the Prodigy Set, which will set you back £1.49 / $1.99.

You can also buy additional hints at 69p / 99c for ten, £1.49 / $1.99 for 25, and £1.99 / $2.99 for 50.
It also helps that it's a complete joy to spend time in Strata's company. The art style is striking, and the subtle piano tinkles that accompany each action form a lovely, calming soundtrack.

It's slightly irritating that the more challenging levels of this incredibly pure and high-quality puzzler, which is hardly laden with content, is locked behind IAPs. We are, however, growing grudgingly accustomed to such an approach.

Besides, it's a rare blemish on an otherwise-pristine puzzle experience. Other than that name, of course.
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 18 September 2013
A confidently executed and extremely stylish puzzler with a heavy reliance on its innovative ribbon-swiping mechanic
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