The Screetch

The Screetch

What we liked:

+ Competitive, turn-based play
+ Highly addictive
+ Looks good, plays well
+ Colorblind mode

What we didn't like:

- Hyper-sensitive touch controls
- Sound and music

DEVELOPER: Piston Games   |   PUBLISHER: Piston Games   |   RELEASE: 07/22/2010

Be careful of the blob.

Coming all the way from Moscow, Russia, The Screetch proves that vodka-fueled development may be a successful model. Gameplay is addictive – the sort of addictive that aids in my procrastination of writing not just this review, but at least two others – and the style is distinctly eye-catching. The Screetch has effectively oozed its inky blackness right into my soul, and I won’t give it up.

The idea is that you try to match three in order to capture Screetches, inky globs that take over the game board and your colored spheres. As you capture parts of the Screetch battling you in each level they are collected in a flask that, once full, allows you to advance to the next stage. Touting match-three gameplay, The Screetch really plays as a turn-based game with a dose of strategy, so throw out your typical match-three notions – they just don’t apply here.

Time is not a factor, the Screetch retaliates on a turn-by-turn basis not based on your speed of execution. As you progress, the Screetch going toe-to-toe with you on a level is more aggressive, and its AI is better tuned to defending against your moves. Turn-based, The Screetch encourages logic and patient strategy, while being streamlined enough to work as a quick play game.

There are some basic match-three elements here, of course. In addition to matching three collecting some Screetch, matching spheres horizontally grants you an electric sphere that when matched with two others of its kind clears the row and column its resting in. However, since the Screetch is blocking and reacting to you a match-three approach isn’t going to get you very far.

In addition to local and global leader boards across a dozen different leagues, divided by score, you can also issue challenges to friends and the title offers Facebook integration for the socially networked. The Trophies section tracks Screetches you’ve captured, and is a good example of playfulness of the game menus. They’re stretchy and globby, and navigating them is actually a bit fun.

Each game level has a new landscape and different Screetch, but the former are pretty easily overlooked when you’re intent on those spheres. The board is colorful and the design accessible and pretty. Color-blind? No problem, Screetch allows you to switch to a numbered sphere system. You might wish for some selective hearing problems, however, as the soundtrack and effects can kind of drone.

A little frustration surfaces when you get into a good rhythm and those touch controls work against you. They’re pretty sensitive, so more than once you’ll be dropping spheres where you didn’t mean to (for the cautious player, I recommend a touch-and-drag technique). This can really ruin a round of gameplay, and while I know the game follows a very rapid turn-based response I still longed for an “undo” option when that happened!

Screetch is a game in masquerade. It looks like a match-three, but it plays like a turn-based title that pits you directly against the inky Screetch. The developers shouldn’t by shy of this odd categorization, as ultimately this sets the title apart from other match-threes and packs the addictive punch that has you coming back for more.

Download The Screetch from iTunes.

Review copy provided by publisher.

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