When a new iOS game comes along to take the top spot on the iPhone / iPod touch app store, it’s hard not to take notice. Anything that can dethrone the juggernaut that is Angry Birds must have something going for it. The game that pulled this off most recently is The Heist, a clever puzzle game that’s got an excellent presentation going for it. While it doesn’t bring many original ideas to the table, the puzzles are difficult enough to make the game last a long time. The 60 puzzles will get your brain working over time.
As mentioned before, the presentation is key in creating an involving experience. Right off the bat, the game begins by a mystery girl named Sophia calling you on your iPhone / iPod Touch. The screen is deceptively designed to look like an iPhone call and you have accept the call to hear what she has to say. Basically, you are attempting to break into a massive vault with several protection systems including lasers, cameras and steel bars. Puzzles are broken up into 4 different categories and your progression across all four combined dictates what portion of the vault opens up next. In addition, each puzzle has a point value assigned to it. If you are an all-star at a specific type of puzzle, you may progress more quickly be completing the tougher, higher point value puzzles.
Puzzles aren’t terrible difficult at first, but starting ramping up as you complete the opening brain teasers. There are four categories of puzzles: block sliding (to bring one piece out of the puzzle box), sliding puzzle pieces (to create a single image), Sudoku and a block positioning game that reminded me a bit of the main character in Portal 2. You have seen all of these puzzle types before in other games or as a child most likely. The concepts aren’t overly challenging to grasp, but the solutions can be toward the final puzzles.
Visually, the graphics are clean, yet somewhat muted. The bland gray on gray color scheme is boring, but the neon animation effects when solving a puzzle do stand out. The replica iPhone screen is well designed for the fake phone calls and is certainly enough to make someone scratch their head after the first call.
I really wasn’t a fan of the repeating tracks that play during puzzle solving. They sound like they were those prerecorded tunes from a 1980’s Casio keyboard. The sound effects, however, are subtly effective and you know exactly when you solve a puzzle correctly.
For less than a buck, you are getting 60 puzzles to solve as well as a clever presentation to go along with it. The only major drawback to The Heist is there are few, if any, original gameplay concepts introduced. It’s extremely difficult to foresee an extended life at the top of the leaderboard, especially when Angry Birds has a much higher quality presentation and an endless supply of levels. If you absolutely love puzzle games, this is probably worth your time and will eat away a handful of gaming hours.