Killing Time in Peace with Absolute Solitaire on Facebook

When we first came across an app called Absolute Solitaire, it didn’t strike much of a chord. After all, it’s just solitaire, right? Well, apparently, the Windows version of this classic PC game has been holding back as the bilingual Facebook game from Café.com has proven, once again, just how much better a little style can make a simple game.

Last time we looked at a title from the company, it had created a perfect zen-like atmosphere on Facebook with Temple of Mahjong 2, and it seems that that level of serenity hasn’t lost any of its potency.

Available in both French and English, Absolute Solitaire plays like any other solitaire game: Users attempt to sort a shuffled deck of cards, using basic solitaire rules, so that the four empty cells in the upper right contain all 13 cards from each suite. Standard. However, like in Temple of Mahjong 2, this version has a handful of special tools to help users should they get stuck. This includes an auto feature that automatically places cards into the top four cells, an inverse tool that will flip two cards, changing which one is on top (and in turn, which one can be moved), a free cell tool that gives you an empty spot to place any card, and a magic tool that reveals three cards.

Now before anyone gets up in arms about how this defeats the purpose of solitaire, yes, it does make it much easier. Truth be told, however, it was never a really difficult game to begin with, and these features help to mitigate unwinnable situations that do come off as frustrating from time to time in the classic Windows rendition. Furthermore, the alleviation of frustration seems to be the whole point. This game isn’t about challenge. It’s about relaxation.

Every element of Absolute Solitaire is intended to be serene; be it the gentle way the cards animate, t0 the zen backgrounds that range from ladybug close-ups to tropical waterfalls, to the gentle (and beautiful) ambient music playing in the background. This is a game designed to just help people unwind after a long day.

Of course, being a Facebook app, this title has far more to it than mere presentation. Each game is actually timed, and for every move you make, points are earned, and for every time you recycle the deck in the upper left, points are lost. This scoring system obviously leads to the game’s leaderboard and Challenge systems. As with most Facebook titles, the former consists of both friends and global boards while the latter merely coaxes Facebook buddies to beat your high score via a posting on your profile’s wall.

On another note, for each game one plays, they earn experience towards a new level, which is represented by an odd looking card avatar. A minor addition, yes, but like in Temple of Mahjong 2, this critter, with faces ranging from kings to Elvis, is a more than welcome addition, giving players a small means to visibly display their solitaire prowess to friends.

In the end, Absolute Solitaire isn’t anything to write home about in the game play department. However, it is a fantastic example of how even a game that we all take for granted – a game most could play in their sleep – is made ten times better with a quality presentation. Okay, so it’s not FarmVille, but it currently earns over 165,000 monthly active users, and if you’re bored and just looking to zone out without thinking too hard, then this is a game for you. If nothing else, you’ll probably just let the music play… ah, soothing….