iPhone Life magazine

Review: Vertex by Calculator Games

To its credit, I will say that I don’t think I’ve ever played anything like Vertex on my iPhone before.  Conceptually it’s actually a sound game.  Unfortunately, I really don’t find it all that interesting.  Additionally, the time allotments are crazy and there’s no timer-less mode with any incentive to play it.  I think with some embellishments on the different game play modes there could be something here, but right now it feels more like a highly polished late stage alpha game than a truly marketable product.

It's Getting ComplicatedThe premise behind the game is simple.  You have a graph comprised of lines (“vertices”) connected by points (“edges”).  At the bottom of the screen you have four colors, and your job is to paint each edge with a color such that all edges are painted and no two edges of the same color are touching the same vertex.  If it sounds simple, that’s because to start off with it really is.  So far I haven’t run across a puzzle yet that I couldn’t complete logically.  The real problem is with the issue of timing.

The game is comprised of three modes – practice, time attack and campaign.  Practice mode is quite boring, because there’s no incentive to complete the puzzles.  You get no score and there’s no timer.  You move up to Time Attack mode and you get 20 seconds to complete as many puzzles as you can.  I don’t think I’ve ever been able to complete more than 2, or possibly 3 on the very best round.  This could actually be a fun mode, but I think there needs to be several different options for the amount of time you get.  Or, the option that might make even more sense would be to have a small amount of time per level, and not overall (basically what campaign mode does).  As for campaign mode, you get 10 seconds per level to complete the level.  When you get enough edges on the screen I just can’t physically move fast enough to complete a level.  I’d like to see more time here, and since this is campaign mode, the time running out should just negate some sort of bonus instead of ending the game.

The control scheme is quite basic.  You click one of the four color blocks at the bottom of the screen, and then click each edge that you wish to paint that color.  I’ve never had any issues with responsiveness, but I just can’t seem to move my fingers around the screen quite quickly enough as the puzzles start to get more complicated.

Graphically Vertex looks kind of primitive, though you don’t really need a lot of glitz for this type of game.  There are a couple of effects like a little sparkle when you paint an edge, but nothing really eye catching.  The special effects are pretty basic as well.  As for music, there is some that plays while you’re in between levels or on the game over screen, but as nice as it sounded at first it doesn’t take long to realize that it’s just a few seconds of music in a continuous loop.

Vertex is a nice start to a game, but that’s all it really feels like right now is a start.  The game modes need to be beefed up, and while it’s not imperative, a little more flair in the audio / visual department would be welcome.  In a less crowded market Vertex might stand out more, but with all the stellar choices that are available on the App Store, this is really just a second class citizen.

Overall Score: 4/10
App Store Link

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.