What we liked:

+ Online leader boards
+ With five modes it's a robust puzzler

What we didn't like:

- Sound is a little too minimalist

DEVELOPER: Caffeine Monster Software   |   PUBLISHER: Caffeine Monster Software   |   RELEASE: 09/04/2008

When I was asked to review Geomex it was described to me as “Tetris+Bejewled+Awesome” and many hours later I can safely say that yes, yes it is. From indie developer Caffeine Monster the $1.99 app has you matching shapes of different colors to clear them from the board in a fight to score big while the clock runs down. The simple concept packs a lot of variety with fives different game modes: Arcade, Chain, Mono, Puzzle, and Clear!.

In Arcade Mode you make the matches building points and advancing through levels. It gets challenging quickly – as you progress to new levels, shapes and colors are added making for slim pair pickings on the game board. Should you run out of moves on a stage it will reset itself, which happens quite often in higher levels. The timer bar, like in Bejeweled, is replenished as you make matches and runs down more quickly as you advance.

Arcade Mode also introduces you to the game’s “Chain” concept, a swapping method that generates a points bonus. The “last color” or the color of the piece that completed the most recent match is tracked and highlighted, and starting the next swap with that color begins a chain: pairing a blue square with a green square then a green rectangle with a red rectangle, so on and so forth. The opportunity for the chain in Arcade mode is time sensitive, and taking too long to find the appropriate pair causes the chain to expire.

Chain Mode focuses on the principle of creating massive chains, and does not allow you to create any pairs that do not continue a chain. The pieces that match your last color in Chain Mode are highlighted in yellow, and there is no time constraint on continuing the chain. This mode is more tactical and slightly slower-paced, though it still carries all the benefits of speed as the level clock is still running down.

Mono Mode changes the rules a bit and has you matching shapes with a board full of the same color, though grey blocks cannot be matched and do not leave the board. Since you cannot create the game’s traditional chain in Mono Mode, combos are generated by matching highlighted blocks. When you make a match, the adjacent blocks will be highlighted and you have to pull from those blocks to create the next swap. Like Arcade Mode, these chains have a time constraint and will expire, and oftentimes fall out of reach of available matches encouraging some quick strategy.

Puzzle mode features twenty-four levels, each of them a board-clearing mind-bender. The puzzles are comprised of a handful of shapes arranged in such a way that you can clear the board perfectly by matching the correct pairs. Should you get stumped, the ensuing level is unlocked. This is a great mode, though the early levels really fly by – perhaps updates will bring a few more puzzles?

Clear! mode is the game’s culmination, as it tasks you with clearing as many boards as possible in a two minute period. While you do not have to empty a stage completely to progress (once you run out of moves you advance to the next board) there are points allotted based on how much of the stage you clear. Unlike in other modes where additional pieces fill the board, there are no more pieces given so you must quickly plan how you use what is available.

One of my favorite aspects of the game are the menus and the ease with which you can check your high scores. Simply tap over to the leader boards and flip between each mode to see where you stand locally and online. In addition to rankings there are achievements, another simple feature that rounds out the gameplay. If the gameplay does not make sense or come naturally to you after a few seconds of gameplay you can refer to the in-game instructions. This is the same page you will see when you first try out a mode, and it remains just as accessible throughout.

The primary colors and simple graphics are pleasant to look at, and the menus really are very slick. Geomex audio takes minimalism to a new level, with a retro blip for every swap made. I appreciate that the sound there is, is good – I just wish there was more of it!

Aesthetically spare, Geomex focuses on delivering solid gameplay. The sort of game that can kill a few minutes while you wait for the train or last you the whole ride, Geomex is casual gaming done right. The different modes keep the game fresh and satisfying, and at $1.99 it is a great value for anyone looking for a robust puzzler.

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