Eggies review

Eggies is a Facebook game from Playbrains, published by 6waves. It’s currently being featured by Facebook in the “New Games” section of the social network’s App Center feature. It’s also available for iPhone and iPad via the App Store, and these versions sync with the Facebook incarnation’s leaderboards. This review is based on the Facebook version.

Eggies doesn’t set the best first impression, as it initially appears to be little more than a Bejeweled Blitz ripoff that lacks even the most basic social functionality. As the player competes in their first few games, however, it becomes apparent that there’s actually a considerable amount of hidden depth in this oddly charming little game. While the base mechanics are indeed almost identical to PopCap’s classic match-3 puzzler, the additional features that are layered atop this solid but well-worn foundation help to make Eggies a distinctive experience worthy of note for puzzle game fans.

The player’s initial games introduce Eggies’ equivalent of Bejeweled’s “special gems” one at a time. Matching more than three eggs together at once releases an animal, the exact type being determined by the color of the eggs matched. Each animal has a different effect when incorporated into another match — blue rhinos charge and destroy a whole row and purple pandas bounce around the play area and destroy everything in their path, for example. The player is introduced to these animals at the rate of one per game initially, and once this is done the game continues to add features one at a time, starting with an experience point system and social leaderboards; then, after leveling up, a lives mechanic and hard currency system; then, at the next level, a soft currency and powerup system. As the player continues to progress through the levels, they gradually increase their score bonus and unlock access to additional powerups, giving the game an excellent sense of progression. Each level up also rewards the player with hard currency and a refill on their lives, so skilled players will be able to continue playing for quite some time — experience gain from a play session is tied directly in to how well the play session went, rather than being based on a flat rate per game.

Playing with friends is encouraged by the opportunity to share high scores after a game, and the now-obligatory weekly tournament leaderboard. Having more friends playing also adds to the player’s soft currency bonus at the end of each game, so it is in most players’ interests to try and “recruit” as many of their peers as possible.

What initially appears to be yet another in the very long line of Bejeweledesque match-3 puzzlers successfully manages to distinguish itself in an overcrowded genre with all of these features. The initial games that introduce the base mechanics are paced well, help the player feel like they are constantly making progress and also make newcomers feel they are getting a healthy amount of time to try the game out before monetization options are even visible on screen. This is a very player-friendly way of doing things, and it keeps the game feeling very fair. The monetization, when it does enter the picture, is unobtrusive and the player will rarely feel like they are being pushed in the direction of the payment options, at least initially — though as they level up and start to require more experience per level, the lives system will start to throttle play more and more for non-paying players. That said, the hard currency awards for leveling up coupled with the fact that players may send lives to one another mean that more dedicated and social players will be rewarded for getting others involved without having to pay a cent.