Robbery Pays Off For tap tap tap’s The Heist on iPhone

American developer tap tap tap has made a name for itself with well-crafted and extremely high-quality paid apps like Camera+, which surpassed 2 million downloads milestone in April.

Now it has a new hit to add to its repertoire. Currently the top paid app in the U.S., The Heist is a puzzle app, compiling four of the oldest and most simple puzzle concepts ported to iPhone (e.g. pushing objects to a specific point).

They’re deceptively simple. All are extraordinarily challenging and offer little to no guidance for the player and the variety of puzzles offered in this $0.99 app are a large part of its rise on the charts.

Players take on the role of a specialist whose expertise is in cracking safes. After receiving a “phone call” that mimics the iPhone user interface for calls, users are given the mission of cracking the grand daddy of all security systems. From lasers detectors to electrified bars to tumblers, players must resolve a quartet of puzzles in order to make their way through each level of a monstrous safe’s defenses.

Each puzzle type, loosely, resembles a security measure, and the idea is to solve them and charge a sort of “energy” to progress to the next security level. Depending on the difficulty of the puzzle, it will be worth a set amount of energy charges, and each security level will require more and more to pass; unlocking more difficult puzzles as the player progresses.

The first type is like a much older puzzle game, Unblock Me. The idea is that puzzles must slide differently-sized blocks either vertically or horizontally (depending on their orientation) in order to get a circuit-like object into a port. The trick is that the space is extremely cramped, and players will find a significant challenge in making enough space for the circuit to pass through.

The second puzzle type is reminiscent of Sudoku. Here, players are given a series of grid spaces holding a conglomerate of different colored, hieroglyphic-style glyphs that they must place. Like Sudoku, no glyph may be repeated in the same line or column. The big difference, however, is that each space, for each color glyph, is not perfectly square and symmetrical but rather composed of random geometric shapes.

Part three of the game is actually like a recently highlighted top free iPad app, Glam Joe HD (though the concept has been around for years). Basically, players must complete a circuit — or at least what looks like one — by pushing objects to particular points on the level using a little robot. The catch, is that players may only ever push the objects, so the puzzle is a challenge in planning. Unfortunately, this puzzle mini-game hosts the only real complaint to be had with The Heist, and that is that players must tap the side of object they want the robot on, then tap the object to push it. It can be an annoying design choice. One will often tap just outside the object and have to sit and wait for the robot to path his dandy way to that spot before having to be moved back.

The last mini-game is basically a slide puzzle. This is one of those puzzles where there is a grid of nine spaces filled with eight tiles and users must slide them into the empty space in order to put them in the right order and finish the image. Here, the image is represented by wires that one has to connect properly.

What really makes The Heist stand out is the whole safe-cracking premise. By themselves, none of the four mini-games are particularly exciting (though the art style is quite nice). However, there is a certain draw to trying to get into this safe. With each level, part of the defenses are visibly removed and the mysterious contact, who “calls” users initially, gives some words of encouragement. It actually creates a greater sense of accomplishment then one might think, and actually leaves users with a desire to find out what is actually behind that steel door.

Unfortunately, this is a puzzle game that holds no hints, so it is very likely that most users will find themselves stuck from time to time. Nevertheless, for those seeking a challenge — and a variety at that — The Heist is certainly an app worth trying. The game has a beautiful visual style and not only are their four types of puzzles for users to play with, each type holds 15 different puzzles in their own right. If you’re a fan of puzzlers, than this is an iPhone app worth a download.