Tiliard’s core concept is similar to pool/billiards. Players are presented with a grid-based table atop which sit a number of colored, numbered “object tiles.” By tapping the screen to place a “cue tile” adjacent to one of these object tiles then tapping again, the player may move the tiles around. When struck by the cue tile, object tiles will move a number of squares equal to the number printed on them and will bounce off the cushions at the side of the screen. Like real billiard balls, if they strike each other they will also transfer force between them. Unlike real billiard balls, however, placing the cue tile between two object tiles will cause them both to shoot off in opposite directions, raising the possibility for some interesting trick shots.
The aim of the game is to pot all of the object tiles in as few moves as possible. Each level has a tiered rating system according to how many moves the player took to complete it — achieving “star” rating requires the player to find the “perfect” solution, using the absolute minimum number of moves to clear the table. Upon successfully completing a table, the player is able to share their achievement using iOS 5 and up’s built-in Twitter functionality, including a text-based representation of the solution they used.
Tiliard uses an attractive retro aesthetic, with sound effects reminiscent of 8-bit computers and simple but attractive Retina display graphics with clean, sharp edges. The look works well in the context of the game, which is also pleasingly old-school in its sensibilities — it’s a simple concept that is gradually developed over the course of the many and varied levels. As the player progresses and becomes more proficient in various techniques, the game introduces different types of tiles and more complex puzzles to provide an increasing level of challenge to the player.
The game features Game Center compatibility for achievements. Most of these are of the “complete [x] amount of game” variety, but there are a couple that carry intriguing cryptic clues, offering an additional layer of “meta-challenges” atop the base game.
2 Key Players clearly has a roadmap in mind for Tiliard’s future development. The level select screen shows that additional level sets are coming soon, and the game’s main menu carries a button for a table editor which is not yet implemented. It’s not yet clear whether this facility will allow players to share their creations online, but this would certainly be a good idea. Tapping the table editor button at this time prompts users to rate the game, which is a much less obtrusive method of soliciting feedback than uninvited popups or borderline “bribery” with in-game currency.
In its current state, Tiliard is an excellent puzzle game — a real hidden gem of the App Store that deserves to see some success, and one that will only improve over time with continued developer support. Whether or not it will find that success remains to be seen, as it is a title coming from an unknown developer into the fast-moving and highly competitive App Store market, but its originality, excellent and distinctive presentation, entertaining gameplay and respect for its players are all factors worthy of a considerable amount of praise.
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