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For: iPhone

Can't we all just come together?

Product: Unify | Developer: Zach Gage | Format: iPhone | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Unify iPhone, thumbnail 1
It's normally a sign of laziness to use a dictionary definition of a game's title to make a point about the game in question, yet Unify has been taunting me to break that rule ever since it first powered up. Well, it's either that, or the simplicity of the gameplay has numbed my brain to such a degree that doing so suddenly seems the right way to go.

Arguably more than any other colour-matching puzzler out there, Unify is all about bringing things together into one solid unit. It's so straightforward, in fact, that it would be very easy to write this off as mere fluff, another Tetris clone doing little more than making up the numbers.

But that would be to misunderstand its appeal entirely. While Tetris is no doubt an influence - there's no getting away from the fact that this is essentially a game focused on bringing together blocks in order to clear them from the board - Unify does have a couple tricks up its sleeve.

Rather than dropping down from the top of the screen, blocks pop up on either side, gradually moving toward the middle. It's in the centre where the unifying is done, the idea being to link up groups of four or more matching coloured blocks into one single entity.

A tap on each half of the screen rotates any blocks in that section, whereas sliding a finger moves them up, down, left or right while they're still in motion. Once they hit the centre, they're fixed: the only way to clear them from the board is to unite them with three or more other like-coloured blocks.

What Unify does rather cleverly is test your level of engagement. From beginning to end, this is a game of a survival. While only two colours - black and white - initially make an appearance, new shades come into the fold, the blocks also gathering pace.

The game never makes progress impossible. It simply makes it uncomfortable. How long you last is basically a question of just how long Unify entertains you enough to keep shifting the blocks around, matching them up. Keeping a handle on play is rarely anything more than a quick tap to rotate here, a short shift up or down there.

There's little to turn the experience sour in truth, the only fault being technical: OpenFeint integration has quirks, though nothing that causes the game to be unplayable (a recent update addresses crashes, but there are still display issues with OpenFeint). Backgrounds occasionally flash colours that can be confused for blocks, even when none have been played.

Even when Unify edges near tiresome, a progress bar at the top of the screen lets you know just how close you are to the next stage. It's this unique perspective on puzzling - subtly dangling a carrot on a stick in front of you rather than forcing players out of the game by making the task impossible - that sets Unify apart.

This is a game that wants the love and dedication of everyone who gives it a go, the score you post almost a measure of your adoration. What could be more unifying than that?
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 5 October 2009
A smart twist on the typical colour-matching puzzler, Unify is the kind of title that takes a couple short minutes to learn, but a lifetime to put down
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