We’ve seen some helpless protagonists in logic puzzlers before, but the living block at the heart of hart[dev]’s iOS debut takes the cake. Hopefully you won’t mind if I call it “Block” for lack of a name. Anyway, it’s no wonder Block constantly wears a freaked-out expression. Without arms or legs or even the benefit of being round, it is completely at the mercy of the GraviMaze (Out Now, $0.99 Release Sale) — a series of Mayan vaults that rotate at the player’s command, hopefully in a manner that leads Block to an exit portal and lets it collect some medallions along the way.
One look at the preview video and I thought for sure this was going to be a tilt-driven game. Cool, right? But to tell you the truth, tilt has worn kind of thin for me; it looks weird on the bus, and if you’re a butterfingers like I am it might make you prone to dropping your iDevice, or inflict some kind of wrist whiplash. That’s why I was actually relieved to find out GraviMaze uses a no-nonsense swipe mechanic for environment rotation. The name of the game is figuring out the correct rotation sequence to get Block from Point A to Point B — make that Point Bs, plural, in levels with multiple solutions. Naturally, Game Center leaderboards keep track of scores based on number of turns and time taken to complete GraviMaze’s levels, and certain medallion thresholds must be reached before advanced level sets unlock.
Like any logic puzzler worth its weight in megabytes, GraviMaze stirs in plenty of nuance as the player dives further in. Spiked pits will devour Block and other objects, heavy slabs will crush right through anything unfortunate enough to land beneath them, and lock-and-key devices have to be smashed together to clear the way. GraviMaze spends a whole level set easing the player in, but once Block lands in the second temple the challenge begins ramping up to a satisfying degree that should leave no fan of brain teasers disappointed. GraviMaze’s greatest gameplay accomplishment is the way it makes every threat a potential boon if only the player can figure out how to use it to his or her advantage. Medallions and exits lie out of reach if critical blocks or keys get smushed, so players will get plenty of use out of that level retry button.
GraviMaze may not do a whole lot for you if you aren’t already a logic puzzle buff, but an incredibly slick presentation takes it a cut above your typical genre fare. Just because there’s no story doesn’t mean a game can’t whisk the player off into another world, and hart[dev] hits that perfect level of ambiance with aetherial tribal tunes, lots of click-clack sound effects, and vault designs that feel strangely organic. GraviMaze can be counted on for a solid four hours of puzzle solving before the player exhausts its content.
iFanzine Verdict: A satisfying logic puzzler notable for creative obstacles, brain-teasing level design, casual accessibility and wonderful atmosphere. If you’re a genre fan, give it some time to reveal everything it has to offer and you won’t leave disappointed.