The battle for numeracy has begun in Numbers Together

Numbers Together is a new iOS game from Brainbow, a London-based startup founded by former Playfish, Google and Amazon employees. The developer’s focus is on “knowledge entertainment” — i.e. games that encourage players to think, gain knowledge and improve practical skills while being social and easy to understand. This is particularly apparent in the developer’s debut title.

Numbers Together is an asynchronous multiplayeer competitive number puzzle game based around the “numbers round” from long-running French game show Des Chiffres et de Lettres, better known to English speakers in its British incarnation Countdown. Players are given a target number to attain and must reach it as quickly as possible by using the four basic arithmetical operators, which may be used as many times as necessary, and six number cards, each of which can only be used once. Successfully completing a puzzle often requires players to add, subtract, multiply or divide the results of more than one calculation together rather than following a “linear” path of calculations.

Players have 45 seconds to complete each round and are rewarded with soft currency according to how quickly they completed the problem. This currency may be spent on “bonuses,” which are primarily used to freeze the in-game timer for a few seconds and afford the player a little additional breathing room. Currency may also be acquired through in-app purchase for those who do not wish to “grind.” How much currency is won determines the winner for a round, and whoever wins the most rounds out of ten is declared the winner of the match.

The game requires a Facebook account to play, and allows players to challenge anyone on their friends list rather than just those who already have the app installed. While this is convenient for players who have a Facebook account, it actively prevents those who have chosen not to make use of the social network from playing. This has been received somewhat negatively by some App Store reviewers, and with good reason: pretty much all other competitive asynchronous games of this type also allow those who do not use Facebook to sign up with their email address or by creating a username. While there is a considerable degree of crossover between fans of this type of game and active users of the social network, to actively exclude what could amount to a significant number of players seems a little short-sighted.

Another problem is that the game does not appear to have the facility to cancel or forfeit a game in progress. This means that once a match has begun, both participants are locked in for the full ten rounds. This is another issue that has been highlighted by App Store reviewers, with some complaining that challenging a random opponent ends up with them caught in an endless loop of rematches, unable to escape.

Despite this, Numbers Together is a good quality game that certainly fulfils Brainbow’s “knowledge entertainment” mission. It would benefit from a few tweaks here and there — specifically, the facility for those who don’t use Facebook to play, and the ability to quit a match in progress (or perhaps provide the option for shorter matches) — but these flaws are not enough to spoil the experience. It’s a fun asynchronous game, and a nice change to be able to challenge others using numbers rather than letters for once.

Numbers Together is not yet ranked in the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.