Odd Socks is a Facebook game from Oak Systems, a UK-based developer of PC, Facebook and Android/Kindle software. It’s designed to be a simple, easy-to-understand game suitable for all ages. It has been available for over a year now, but is going through another period of growth at present following a peak and subsequent decline over the summer.
Odd Socks is a simple puzzle game. Players must match pairs or “sets” of socks on a washing line in order to meet certain quotas. When the line is not full, players may click the on-screen washing machine to retrieve more socks to fill the empty spaces. If it is not possible to make any pairs or sets with the socks that are on the line, players may place up to five socks in the on-screen bin and then retrieve further socks.
If the bin is already full when the player needs to offload some rogue socks, there are two options: pay in-game currency to empty the bin (or Facebook credits if the player does not have enough currency on-hand) or send an individual rogue sock to a friend. This doubles as an invite to the game, and once the player has some friends playing, they are able to rummage through their fellow players’ bins to find socks they might need. Players earn in-game currency for making pairs of socks, or larger amounts for completing a “set” in one go. There is no means of purchasing in-game currency directly.
Players progress through the game by matching certain numbers of socks of an appropriate “level,” beginning with plain-colored socks and progressing to patterned ones of various types. Once the “quota” of socks has been met for the level, the player levels up, meaning they get an extra peg on their line to temporarily store socks while matching, and more types of socks start to come out of the washing machine, making it more and more difficult to make matches and sets.
Odd Socks is a fun little puzzle game, with a simple, childish aesthetic that makes it particularly appropriate for young children — older players may find the heavy use of the unpopular Comic Sans font to be offputting! The game does have a couple of issues, however — most notably the fact that it is quite easy to run into a “wall” making it impossible to progress without either bombarding friends with requests or spending Facebook Credits. Alongside this, the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining certain aspects of its gameplay — for example, there is an “energy” statistic listed at the top of the screen, and energy symbols appear near friends when players are rooting through their sock bins, but it’s never made explicit what the “energy” is used for, and the stat never went down once during testing.
These issues aside, there’s plenty of ongoing challenge in Odd Socks to keep players going for quite a while. Completing complete sets of levels opens up new play modes, each with their own independent global leaderboards, allowing for the best sock-matchers in the world to compete against one another. Its core gameplay is not very complex and does not evolve significantly over the course of the game, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing — when coupled with the simple, colorful aesthetic and silly music (which is turned off by default), the game is eminently suitable for parents to play with their young children. It’s even simple enough for children to be able to play by themselves, though parents may wish to take care with their payment options if so.
By no means perfect or universally appealing, but a good example of a Facebook game that is particularly well-suited to young children or families.