PUK (out now, $0.99) by Laser Dog exudes minimalist simplicity right from its start screen to its plain graphics. Even though the screen shots may not look terribly exciting at first glance, this casual game has the ability to hook you in fast.
White circles appear against a backdrop of bright orange, and you’ve got to clear them as fast as possible using one or more small circular pucks at the bottom of the screen. Through a simple pull-back motion, you can aim the pucks, which will rebound off walls.
You can theoretically flick the pucks as many times as you wish since they’ll return to the bottom of the screen if your aim is off. However, each level has a time limit of several seconds. The timer appears as a horizontal boundary that closes into an impenetrable wall once you run out of time. If any pucks get stuck beyond this wall, you have three tries to shake your device to nudge the pucks into continuing their trajectory and hopefully hitting your target. If you fail to clear all the circles within a level, the game will end and you’ll have to start all over again. Obviously, your goal is to clear as many levels as you can.
The game offers 1000 levels, but you’ll have to flick fast and aim well to make it through that many. Luckily, the order in which the various levels are presented to you is randomized, so the game is unlikely to bore you even though some levels, especially the simpler ones, do get repeated.
PUK quickly gets increasingly challenging once you clear the first few levels. Walls will start appearing and some white circles will require more hits. Such circles are typically larger and will shrink with each hit. But size alone is not an indicator of the number of hits needed, since some large circles can be cleared with just one puck. The number of pucks you’re given will tell you how many hits are needed because you’ll have to use every single puck.
If there’s anything you might get tired of while playing PUK, it could be the unending orange. In my opinion, this game could benefit from customizable color themes or hues that change after a certain number of levels.
PUK wins with its simplicity and fast-paced, addictive gameplay. Anyone can pick this up and start playing immediately, but you’ll have to work your fingers hard to blaze through the game and earn a high score. At $0.99, PUK is well worth keeping on your device and whipping out every now and then for several minutes of challenge.